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Research Report S E C T I O N 1
9 Need for the Research and Context from Practice Transit agencies are confronted with new challenges and opportunities as technology, demo- graphic, land use, and economic trends all converge to change urban mobility. De-industrialization, the rise of the service economy, and workplace trends like teleworking and the gig economy have impacted urban travel patterns. Reinvestment in urban areas has produced new markets for transit providers. New mobility providers, such as carshare, bikeshare, and transportation network companies (TNCs), have changed the way people travel and may compete with or complement traditional public transportation. The rise of mobile-based apps and technologies have made possible a host of real-time solutions that once were impossible. These changes mean that the transit networks developed decades ago may no longer meet the needs of the traveling public. Public transit agencies are responding to changes in urban mobility by conducting comprehensive bus network redesignsâmajor changes to their bus networks that impact the fundamental structure of the transit system. Alongside this trend, transit providers are embracing new mobility solutions and working to integrate these modes and services with fixed route transit. The purpose of this study is to better understand bus network redesigns and how emerging mobility options are impacting them. Research Approach This study follows previous studies on bus network redesigns conducted through TCRP, and it aims to build on, not repeat, the previous research. A robust research agenda was followed to develop a broad sense of the current state of bus network redesign practice as well as goals and challenges transit agencies are facing. This included a detailed literature review, interviews with transit agency representatives, a focus group with transit industry researchers and private sector company representatives, and additional interviews representatives from non-transit agency organizations. These research activities led to the development of a state-of-the-practice review, which was mostly informed by reviewing recently conducted relevant surveys. As of publication of this report, there are three recent TCRP projects with surveys that are directly relevant to this research; the research team reviewed those surveys rather than approach these transit agencies again. Literature Review The documents chosen for the literature review were selected based on their applicability, merit, and uniqueness. Documents were considered that addressed (1) bus network redesign, (2) the impact of emerging mobility on transit systems and bus network redesign, and (3) emerging mobility in general. The overall goal was to capture existing research without repeating findings, C H A P T E R 1 Introduction and Purpose of the Report
10 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future so it was important to look for literature that focused on different angles, cases, and outcomes within the same general topic area. One clear gap in the existing literature is information on how new mobility services are affecting how transit providers approach bus network redesigns; however, other aspects of the researchânamely, the interviews and discussion groupâshed light on this topic. Stakeholder Interviews and Facilitated Discussion Group The primary method for this part of the research was in-depth interviews, with a pre-defined set of questions sent in advance to the interviewees so they were able to gather information to be able to answer the questions. The research team primarily interviewed representatives from the transit agencies listed in Table 1, and reviewed transit agency documentation, such as bus network redesign plans, for each agency. The team contacted the following transit agencies and operators: â¢ Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Oakland, CA â¢ Arlington, Texas â¢ Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin, TX â¢ Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), Columbus, OH â¢ Clinton County Public Transit, Plattsburgh, NY â¢ Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD), Denver, CO â¢ Gwinnett County Transit Division, Lawrenceville, GA â¢ Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), Norfolk, VA â¢ Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo), Indianapolis, IN â¢ Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, MO â¢ The Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA), Allentown, PA â¢ Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), Los Angeles, CA â¢ Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA), Baltimore, MD â¢ Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, UT â¢ Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA), San Bernardino County, CA The goal of the interviews was to understand how transit agencies and jurisdictions are reevaluating and redesigning their bus networks to address changes to demand, customer expectations, and the new mobility option landscape. This included discussions about partner- ships, introduction of new service types, and other tools and approaches to meeting the customer needs of today and the coming years. While this is a study about bus network redesigns and therefore most of the interviews were with representatives from transit agencies or jurisdictions that operate transit, the study also addresses how new mobility is being incorporated into bus network redesignsâor how it is being addressed separately. Therefore, in addition to speaking with the transit operators, inter- views were also held with new mobility providers to understand the private sectorâs perspective, where they see the industry going, and how the public sector can help them create a win-win result for the riding public. The research team also held a facilitated discussion group at the offices of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, DC, with participants from the American Public Transpor- tation Association (APTA); Greater Washington Partnership; the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP); Lyft; Transportation for America; Uber; and an unaffiliated industry expert. Finally, the research team spoke with representatives from non-transit agency organizations: Ford, TransDev, TransitCenter, Via, and World Resources Institute. The infor- mation presented in the subsequent chapters of this report, unless otherwise cited, is based on
Introduction and Purpose of the Report 11 (continued on next page) HRT Medium Transform Transit Project/Transit Strategic Plan Bus network redesign with regional high-frequency network and microtransit zones. Phased implementation beginning late 2021. May 2020 IndyGo Medium IndyGo NEXT Bus network redesign that includes three new BRT lines. Transition from a hub-and-spoke model to a frequent grid rolling out over the next several years. May 2019 April 2020 KCATA Medium RideKC Next Bus network redesign to address growing perimeter of city and ridership declines. Planning in progress. June 2019 LANTA Medium Moving LANTA Forward Bus network redesign centered around enhanced bus corridors. Anticipated funding was not available for implementation, but the process laid groundwork for subsequent planning. May 2019 Transit Agency Transit Agency Size* Bus Network Redesign Name Overview and Status as of Interview Date Date(s) Interviewed AC Transit Large AC Go Service expansion with redesigned routes and more frequent service; also established microtransit zones. Implemented in phases between 2016 and 2018. May 2019 Arlington, Texas Small n/a All fixed route service was eliminated and replaced with microtransit service. May 2019 Capital Metro Large Cap Remap Bus network redesign with intent to remove duplication and increase frequency. Implemented 2018. April 2020 COTA Medium Transit System Redesign Non-cost-neutral bus network redesign and expansion, including bus rapid transit (BRT) component. Implemented 2017, BRT in 2018. June 2019 April 2020 Clinton County Public Transit Small Not named 2011 Clinton County Needs Assessment partially implemented. In 2018, implemented change from paratransit to deviated fixed route and dial-a-ride. June 2019 Gwinnett County Transit Division Small Connect Gwinnett Bus network redesign implemented 2018. Microtransit pilot 2018 to 2019. May 2019 March 2020 Table 1. Transit agencies contacted and bus network redesign status.
12 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future these interviews (and materials provided by the transit agencies) and reflects the status of the transit agencyâs bus network redesign at the time interviewed. Particularly in cases where the transit agency was still in the planning stage of the bus network redesign, the details are subject to change as the projects are implemented. State-of-the-Practice Review The research team reviewed the state of the practice in bus network redesigns to gain an in-depth understanding of the strategies being used to redesign public transportation to improve mobility. Because there have been several other recent TCRP studies related to bus network redesigns and new mobility topics, rather than conduct a new survey of transit agencies for this study, the team reviewed these existing surveys to gain information on various aspects of bus network redesigns from TCRP Synthesis 140: Comprehensive Bus Network Redesigns (Byala et al. 2019); TCRP Research Report 204: Partnerships Between Transit Agencies and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) (Curtis et al. 2019); and TCRP Synthesis 141 (Volinski 2019). Each of these studies provided broad information from transit agencies about how they are approach- ing various aspects of the topics being covered in this report. Terminology New mobility describes a wide range of services and transportation solutions, of which a major component is shared mobility services. The Shared-Use Mobility Toolkit (Shared-Use Mobility Center 2016b) defines the following shared-use mobility services: public transit; shuttles; bike LA Metro Large NextGen Bus network redesign adding frequency, reliability, and connectivity particularly with other transit operators. Final planning in progress. May 2019 April 2020 MDOT MTA Large BaltimoreLink Cost-neutral bus network redesign with high- frequency grid and capital improvements. Implemented 2017. May 2019 RTD Large Reimagine RTD Intended as comprehensive assessment of system. Work just getting underway. May 2019 UTA Large Service Choices Elements of the plan are being broken into smaller changes to be phased in over the next several years as post-COVID revenues allow. Piloting microtransit. April 2020 VVTA Small 2017 Comprehensive Operational Analysis Bus network redesign to address geographic spread and increased travel times. Implemented 2017. June 2019 *Transit agency size by annual bus revenue hours: Large: 1.0 million or greater. Medium: 250,000 to 999,999. Small: Less than 250,000. Transit Agency Transit Agency Size* Bus Network Redesign Name Overview and Status as of Interview Date Date(s) Interviewed Table 1. (Continued).
Introduction and Purpose of the Report 13 sharing; carsharing; ridesharing/carpooling; ridesourcing and ride-splitting (both of which are provided largely by TNCs); and microtransit. These definitions, along with others provided by different sources, are summarized below and will be used throughout the report: â¢ Bikeshare are programs where users can unlock and ride publicly available bicycles on a short-term basis, usually for point-to-point or one-way trips. â¢ Carshare are programs where users rent a car, generally for a short period of time. These pro- grams can be from a company that owns the cars, or peer-to-peer, in which individuals rent out their private vehicles to strangers. â¢ Micromobility is a term that describes bikeshare and related modes, such as shared scooters and electric assist bicycles. â¢ Microtransit are technology-enabled services that serve passengers using dynamically gener- ated routes, usually between designated stop locations rather than door-to-door. Because they provide transit-like service but on a smaller, more flexible scale, these new services have been referred to as âmicrotransit.â â¢ Ridesharing and Carpooling. Ridesharing describes trips where passengers take advantage of vehicular trips that are already taking place by having additional riders utilize empty passenger seats. The most common examples are carpools and vanpools. While some sources consider TNCs a rideshare service, the Shared-Use Mobility Center makes the distinction between the two as TNC trips are largely trips intended to satisfy the travel demand of the passenger and otherwise would not take place. â¢ Shuttles are private systems, generally made up of buses, run by institutions, employers, or residential management companies for a set of riders, such as employees or university students. â¢ TNCs (also called ridesourcing) refer to services that connect customers with drivers via a website or mobile app. These services occur in privately owned automobiles and may be shared (i.e., ride-splitting) with other customers with complementary trip origins and destinations. The convergence of all these shared mobility modes, including fixed route public transit, into one platform is often referred to as Mobility as a Service (MaaS). MaaS describes any digital platform that offers origin to destination trip planning, booking, electronic ticketing, and pay- ment services (Goodall et al. 2017). Overview of Contents of the Report This report is organized into two main sections. Section 1 contains the research report consist- ing of six chapters that include the results of the research conducted and the key findings from it. Section 2 contains two chapters consisting of resource materials, specifically case studies and toolkits that transit agencies and others can learn from and use. There is also an appendix con- taining the bank of questions used during the interviews. Section 1: Research Report â¢ Chapter 1: Introduction and Purpose of the Report describes the research and purpose of the report. â¢ Chapter 2: Background on Bus Network Redesigns and New Mobility provides an over- view of the concept of bus network redesigns, discusses key themes and trends in conducting bus network redesigns, trends in new mobility, and how new mobility is being incorporated into bus network redesigns. â¢ Chapter 3: Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning presents the details of bus network redesign planning including the process for service planning as part of a redesign, objectives and metrics for evaluating the plan, incorporating the impact of new mobility,
14 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future equity considerations, public and stakeholder engagement, financial considerations, and capital improvements undertaken as part of a bus network redesign. â¢ Chapter 4: Support and Collaboration covers collaboration within the transit agency, includ- ing transit agency planning and administrative staff, bus operators, and union leadership; collaborating with other stakeholders; gaining community buy-in; and working with transit agency boards and elected officials. â¢ Chapter 5: Bus Network Redesign Implementation provides an overview of how to imple- ment a bus network redesign plan, including phased implementation, engagement and educa- tion during implementation, and how to follow-up post implementation to ensure that the plan is dynamic and responsive over time. â¢ Chapter 6: Conclusions and Next Steps provides key findings from the research as well as additional research that would be useful to further the industryâs understanding of bus net- work redesigns and new mobility. Section 2: Resources â¢ Chapter 7: Case Studies provides in-depth looks at several transit agencies that have planned and implemented bus network redesigns. â¢ Chapter 8: Toolkits contains three toolkits, each of which provides guidance on a different topic related to bus network redesigns and new mobility. â Toolkit #1: Bus Network Redesign is a how-to guide that includes more detail on such topics as developing goals, objectives, and performance metrics; framing trade-offs and constraints; involving boards and elected officials; involving bus operators and unions; conducting public and stakeholder engagement; and planning for implementation. â Toolkit #2: Leveraging Partnerships for a Better Bus System provides a detailed check- list guide that focuses on how to effectively engage with and leverage intra- and inter- agency partnerships to adopt new practices that increase the attractiveness of riding the bus, including strategies for bus priority, fare modernization, demand-responsive transit, and real-time passenger information. â Toolkit #3: Working with the Private Sector provides a detailed checklist guide to partner- ing with private sector new mobility providers, addressing topics such as regulatory and legal considerations, data sharing, labor and safety considerations, and how transit agencies can develop a request for proposals (RFP) for partnering with private sector services. The Appendix contains the bank of questions used during the interviews.
15 Introduction A bus network redesign, as explained in TCRP Synthesis 140, is the process in which a transit agency modifies the structure of its bus network in response to the results of a holistic network analysis. Although this is currently one of the âhottest trendsâ in mass transit, it is not a new concept (Vock 2017). Public transit providers have long altered their networks in response to changing rider needs, although they may have been completed under a different title. Regard- less of terminology, the most important distinction when identifying a bus network redesign is that the redesign consists of an analysis and plan for the fixed route bus network as a systemâ including the potential for substantive changes to the topology of the network and typology of services offeredânot just the analysis and planning of one or a few routes, or even specific corridors. Overview of Bus Network Redesigns All transit agencies have at least one motivation or impetus for choosing to undertake a bus network redesign, and all have goals that they ultimately hope to meet as a result of their bus network redesign. The motivation or impetus for conducting a bus network redesign is essentially the thing or things that induce a transit agency to embark on the undertaking. Goals for the bus network redesign define something that the transit agencies want to achieve as a result of the bus network redesign. Some transit agencies view their bus network redesign efforts as simply part of an ongoing process or as a form of system maintenance, where they regularly look at bus service and its performance. These transit agencies undertake regular Comprehensive Operational Analyses or Transit Development Plans perhaps every few years (e.g., every 5 or 10 years). Many of these agencies view bus network redesign as another term for a systemwide and holistic process they undertake on a regular basis that can still essentially serve as a âfull-onâ bus network redesign effort. Other transit agencies conduct a process that is larger and broader than their typical operational analyses. Ridership increasing or decreas- ing rapidly can inspire an overall look at the bus network. Likewise, C H A P T E R 2 Background on Bus Network Redesigns and New Mobility For the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO), which conducted a âsystem reimaginingâ and implemented its New Bus Network in 2015, their impetus for change centered around five key points (Houston METRO 2014): â¢ Ridership had declined on the local bus system â¢ The transit system had not evolved with the growing Houston region â¢ New light rail lines created a need to better integrate the bus and rail networks â¢ Desire to provide a strong foundation for future growth â¢ The community asked for improve- ments to the local bus system
16 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future outside forces can prompt transit agencies to develop more ambitious, holistic plans. Such forces include increased or decreased funding or the establishment of other transit services, such as new investment in fixed guideway services, including light rail, some types of BRT services, or even new heavy rail rapid transit lines. Often, transit advocacy groups provide support and impetus for a bus network redesign; these groups often view the need for comprehensive redesign as being consistent with a desire to make the transit system the most efficient and effective it could be. The impetus for a transit agency to undertake a bus network redesign might be one or more of the following: â¢ Systemwide analysis and update. For many transit agencies with limited funding and limited staff, holistic, systemwide bus service analysis and planning have long been put on the back burner. While smaller changes have been made over time, the bus networks as a whole often have not been updated in years, and the bus routes no longer reflect the existing prevalent transit patterns (Byala et al. 2019). For some transit agencies, this may be the first time since the inception of their bus network that it has been analyzed as a network instead of as indi- vidual routes or corridors. â¢ Changes to the transit system, such as the introduction or expansion of fixed guideway tran- sit services may push transit agencies to alter their bus network to better align with the access needs of rail or BRT passengers and better leverage the new connections as a part of an overall network (Byala et al. 2019). On the other hand, cancellation of a planned fixed guideway service can spur an area to consider how other modes, such as bus, can provide improved service instead. â¢ Decreasing ridership and high operating costs are always on the minds of transit agencies. As national trends show transit use dipping over time, transit agencies may undertake a bus network redesign to update some of their outdated routes, save money by reducing service to areas with low demand, and refocus their efforts on areas that need and use transit (Byala et al. 2019; Vock 2017). â¢ Economic and demographic changes. Transit agencies may be facing a changing economic or demographic makeup. Economies entering or leaving recessions may face changing transit demands, spurring transit agencies to consider bus network redesign. Likewise, changing demographics and/or demands for paratransit can change overall demand for bus services. Whatever the motivation for conducting a bus network redesign, transit agencies seek to satisfy one or several overarching goals. Examples of these goals include the following: â¢ Improve transit service for current and potential riders was found to be the most com- mon goal. Meeting this goal may involve increasing reliability and/or on-time performance, decreasing travel times, and improving frequency and span of service. Transit agencies also use service improvements to increase regional equity or better serve specific groups, such as seniors and people with disabilities. â¢ Better match the bus network with current and potential future ridership demand. Transit agencies have made it clear that transit networks cannot stay static in the face of constantly evolving cities and regions (Bhattacharya et al. 2014; Halifax Transit 2016; Central Ohio Transit Authority 2016). Transit agencies also have goals of service to specific trip generators, such as employment centers and affordable housing developments. â¢ Increase bus operational efficiency and effectiveness and/or reduce overall operating costs. This goal is one of the most commonly cited by transit agencies that have planned or imple- mented a bus network redesign (Byala et al. 2019). Some transit agencies may be driven to redesign their bus networks to cope with reduced ridership and to reduce the overall operating costs that may have suffered a loss in revenue due to this decreased ridership (Bhattacharya et al. 2014; Dallas Area Rapid Transit 2016; Houston METRO 2014; Jacksonville Transporta- tion Authority n.d.; New York City Transit Authority 2017; Vock 2017).
Background on Bus Network Redesigns and New Mobility 17 â¢ Accrue other important benefits. Transit agencies may also be motivated by goals that span beyond improving their service, such as the desire to reduce dependency on personal cars and promote environmental sustainability (Kalantari et al. 2014; Vock 2017). Other transit agencies cited a goal of making the region more competitive. Many of these goals are related to one another, and it is common for transit agencies to have multiple goals when initiating a bus network redesign (Byala et al. 2019). This list is not exhaustive; there are many other reasons for a transit agency to conduct a bus network redesign and other goals that they hope to achieve. This simply shows the connection between the prompts for a transit agency to consider a redesign and what they hope to gain as a result of completing it. Trends in Bus Network Redesign As more transit agencies have undertaken bus network redesigns in recent years, similarities in the ways that transit agencies are choosing to plan and implement these redesigns have begun to emerge. While bus network redesigns are, at their core, about planning bus service, there are some key elements that differentiate them from typical service planning or are just more common among bus network redesigns. Some of the considerations and trade-offs that transit agencies have been making with regard to bus network redesigns are outlined in Table 2. Because a bus network redesign is a service plan in which the entire bus system is evaluated and planned for at one time, there is the rare opportunity to examine the bus network and its utility in a holistic manner, and to examine the changes in land uses, activity centers, and travel patterns on a metropolitan or regional scale. The trend is that transit agencies use one of the two following approaches for conducting a bus network redesign when determining how to approach the bus network changes: 1. A âblank slateâ approach involves scrapping the existing system and starting over. 2. A âcomprehensive modificationâ to the existing system involves changing many aspects of the system but bases its structure on what currently exists. This difference in approach is more about the how of the service planning process; even transit agencies that plan this way may end up with some routes that are largely similar to those in their current system, because their highly performing routes are already meeting passenger needs. Consideration/Trade-off Description Blank Slate versus Comprehensive Modification Starting planning from a completely fresh approach versus making major (and minor) modifications to the current network. Coverage versus Frequency Providing transit service in as much of the service area as possible versus focusing on corridors and areas that are known to have a high demand for fixed route transit service. Cost Operating cost neutral versus adding additional service hours. Network Structure and Service Emphasis Crosstown routes and high-frequency grid network (less direct, higher frequency) versus the hub-and-spoke method (more direct, lower frequency); peak period service versus midday and weekend; and integration with microtransit. Capital Improvements From minor capital investments to existing infrastructure (e.g., bus stops and signage) to implementing major new capital projects (e.g., dedicated bus lanes and more robust bus stop âstationsâ) as well as investments in operational support features (e.g., layover facilities, new vehicles, expanded or new maintenance facilities). Table 2. Bus network redesign considerations and parameters.
18 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Bus network redesigns raise several fundamental choices that must be considered; discuss- ing how the public and stakeholders feel about a particular trade-off as input to the planning process is a common trend in bus network redesigns. One is the trade-off between providing transit service in as much of the service area as possible or focusing it upon those corridors and areas that are known to have a high demand for fixed route transit service. Given a finite set of resources, this is the classic âservice coverage versus frequent service on high ridership routesâ trade-off inherent in any planning effort but at a much larger scale. Other trade-offs that are often considered in bus network redesigns are questions of more direct service at lower frequen- cies or service with higher frequencies that requires more transfers. Bus network redesigns are often pursued as something that should be âcost neutralâ (i.e., that the same number of service hours be budgeted, with the allocation of where those hours are used to provide service being the key difference). Often the final plan does not adhere to that goal and additional funding can be required to âclose some gapsâ and appease stakeholders. Even if the transit agency does have capacity to increase its operating expenses, approaching the plan initially as cost neutral can lead to fruitful discussions with the public about the trade-offs in network planning when transit operators are constrained by limited resources. Another trend is the emergence of crosstown routes and high-frequency grid networks as opposed to the traditional hub-and-spoke method. This allows individuals to travel without having to pass through the often congested downtown area. Having a grid network also allows the transit agency to reallocate resources on fewer parallel corridors, requiring potentially longer walks between routes but allowing for higher frequency, which not only reduces wait time but also provides further justification for bus-priority treatments. This is also related to the overall trend of transit services becoming more user-friendly. Bus routes have become straighter, which is both easier for riders to understand and more efficient for the bus. In addition to the physical service being changed, the level of service and span have been redeveloped along with the routes; weekend and evening service have both seen an increase after these bus network redesigns are complete (Byala et al. 2019). Transit agencies also conduct a bus network redesign to make other changes to their system, such as implementing capital improvements. This can include improvements to existing infra- structure, such as bus stops and signage; implementing new capital projects, such as dedicated bus lanes and more robust bus stop âstations,â or supporting pedestrian and bicycle access infrastructure (Byala et al. 2019). Some capital improvements are required when undertaking a bus network redesign; for example, new stops that did not previously exist need bus stop infrastructure, such as shelters, signage, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility infrastructure. However, the trend seems to indicate that transit agencies are using a bus net- work redesign to improve infrastructure beyond what absolutely must be changed. Finally, transit agencies have recently begun to incorporate new mobility into their bus net- work redesigns. While this incorporation is still not universal, more transit agencies are looking at new mobility and on-demand services as a potential service type, either incorporated into the bus network redesign or as an ancillary project. Trends in New Mobility While public transit ridership has been declining in recent years across the country and bus ridership now at its lowest point since 1973 (Watkins et al. 2020), many newer forms of shared mobility experienced rapid growth in the 2010s. â¢ Carsharing. The carsharing industry has seen a number of entrants and exits over the past 2 decades as well as a variety of models (e.g., round-trip, point-to-point, peer-to-peer).
Background on Bus Network Redesigns and New Mobility 19 In 2018, there were 21 active carsharing operators in the United States, with over 1.4 million members and over 15,000 shared vehicles. Of these 21 operators, 13 are for-profit businesses that together account for nearly 100% of all carsharing program members and vehicles. While the number of carsharing program members increased by 345% between 2009 and 2018, in recent years the rate of growth in carsharing memberships has slowed; between 2014 and 2018, the number of carsharing program members grew by 8% (Shaheen and Cohen 2020). â¢ Micromobility. Micromobility options have evolved particularly rapidly over the past decade. In 2010, the first modern, station-based bikeshare programs launched (Capital Bikeshare in the Washington, DC, area, and Nice Ride in Minneapolis, Minnesota), and a total of 321,000 bikeshare trips were completed (Arlington County, Virginia 2012). In 2018, over 36.5 million trips were taken on station-based bikeshare systems across 30 U.S. cities. Todayâs bikeshare options include both station-based bikeshare systems and dockless bikeshare systems; many systems have introduced electric bicycles (e-bikes) or have fleets comprised entirely of e-bikes. At the end of 2018, there were over 85,000 e-scooters deployed in around 100 U.S. cities (National Association of City Transportation Officials 2019). â¢ Microtransit. Interest in microtransit among transit agencies grew substantially in the 2010s as the technology to enable on-demand scheduling and routing became available to transit providers. More recently, a number of new microtransit technology providers and turnkey operators have emerged and are currently working with transit agencies. Desire for opera- tional efficiency, equity, and accessibility have thus far motivated transit agencies to offer microtransit service. Over time, changing customer expectations and technology have also given transit agencies reason to consider microtransit service; as customers become accus- tomed to private service offerings, there is a sense that the transit agencies need to evolve their offerings to meet new expectations (Volinski 2019). Survey respondents queried as part of TCRP Synthesis 141 treated demand-response transit (DRT) as just one aspect of a transit agencyâs overall service offering, because DRT open to the general public complements the existing transit network. This sentiment is evidenced by service models that connect with the existing transit network (Volinski 2019). â¢ Ridesharing (or carpooling and vanpooling). Ridesharing is not a new form of shared mobil- ity, but technology-enabled ridesharing is a key component of the new mobility landscape in many of the nationâs major metropolitan areas. In 2008, the first privately run, general public, real-time, smartphone-enabled ridematching system was launched. In the 2010s, vari- ous private firms entered and exited the real-time ridematching marketplace (Shared-Use Mobility Center 2020). Vanpooling (shared rides taking place in a van) may be operated by transit agencies, owner-operators, individual employers or transit management associa- tions, or leased from private providers (Shaheen and Chan 2012). Between 2009 and 2018, the number of vanpool trips reported to the National Transit Database (NTD) increased by 36% to 34 million trips (FTA Office of Budget and Policy 2019). â¢ Shuttles. While comprehensive data on the availability and use of shuttles is unavailable, large operators of these services have contracts with employers, business parks, and others to deliver thousands of rides across the United States (Feigon and Murphy 2018). Certain regions of the country, notably San Francisco and Seattle, see shuttles as a large and key part of their transit networks. â¢ TNCs. Since the inception of TNCs in 2010, the use of these services has grown dramatically across the world. By 2018, the two largest ridehailing companies had completed more than 11 billion trips worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 4 billion TNC or taxi trips were taken in 2018, versus approximately 1.5 billion ride hail or taxi trips were taken in 2012 (Union of Concerned Scientists 2020). As the prevalence of ridehailing has grown, transit agencies have undertaken various types of partnerships with TNCs. A survey conducted as part of TCRP Research Report 204 revealed that transit agenciesâ top goals for TNC partner- ships were âto provide first-mile/last-mile connectionsâ (75%), âdemonstrate innovationâ
20 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future (69%), and âimprove customer experienceâ (61%). When asked about the target customers of the TNC partnership, the two most common responses were to serve âpeople with dis- abilitiesâ (57%) and âpeople in areas difficult to cover by fixed route servicesâ (51%) (Curtis et al. 2019). New Mobility and Bus Network Redesigns When bus network redesigns initially had a resurgence in popularity in the early 2010s, new mobility was not a big considerationâin large part because many of the new mobility options were nascent. There is limited literature and not many transit agencies that have directly tied new mobility services to bus network redesigns. Nevertheless, there is recent evidence that new mobility providers are having some impact on both how and why transit agencies undertake service planning efforts; the potential tie-ins between new mobility and bus network redesigns are depicted in Figure 1. Generally, transit agencies view favorably the idea of incorporating new mobility services into existing transit services. A 2019 survey by the Eno Center found the following: â¢ Three-quarters of transit officials expressed interest in integrating MaaS technologies into their system, with small transit systems especially positive about MaaS. â¢ Seventy percent of operators also expressed interest in working with TNCs to provide transit- operator-based on-demand ridehailing services, though this opinion was largely held by medium-sized operators (80% expressed interest), rather than large operators (40% expressed interest). â¢ Almost 80% were interested in testing digital on-demand services of some kind (e.g., TNCs, microtransit services). â¢ Transit agencies expressed less interest in exploring carpooling services and dockless bike and scooter share technologies (Eno Center for Transportation 2019). New mobility services cannot compete with high-quality, fixed route transit from a capacity and therefore efficiency standpoint, and would thus prove ineffective as a direct substitute Figure 1. Connections between new mobility and bus network redesigns.
Background on Bus Network Redesigns and New Mobility 21 for highly utilized transit service (Tsay et al. 2016). This idea is further supported in TCRP Research Report 195: Broadening Understanding of the Interplay Among Public Transit, Shared Mobility, and Personal Automobiles, which found that the majority of TNC trips are short, many within one ZIP code, and patrons tend to only use TNCs occasionally versus as a pri- mary mode of transit (Feigon and Murphy 2018). TNC usage is most common in areas con- taining an airport, likely as a way for people to get to and from the airport without having to drive and park a car. The transit agencies that participated in this research have incorporated new mobility into their bus network redesign process, or as a follow-on to their bus network redesign, in a wide variety of ways (Table 3). HRT (Norfolk, VA) HRTâs Transform Transit Project and subsequent Transit Strategic Plan included a comprehensive plan to redesign the existing fixed route system, plus incorporation of microtransit zones that would supplement and potentially replace lower-performing fixed route service. The transit agency and its funding partners viewed the inclusion of microtransit as a way to develop a more financially responsible plan. The transit agency then engaged with a microtransit provider to model the costs and refine the zones developed during the bus network redesign. May 2020 IndyGo (Indianapolis, IN) As a follow-on effort of IndyGoâs bus network redesign, IndyGo is piloting several community-based microtransit solutions in conjunction with an account-based fare collection system. June 2020 KCATA (Kansas City, MO) KCATA viewed the planning process for their bus network redesign as being informed by their experience with an unsuccessful microtransit service pilot with a private operator. They learned that the transit agency needs to conduct planning work for the service area to determine the appropriate service parameters for the implementation of future microtransit services. In the redesign planning, the transit agency set a threshold for passengers per hour, under which the area would be a candidate for microtransit. June 2020 MDOT MTA (Baltimore, MD) At the time of the launch of the BaltimoreLink bus network redesign, bike share stations and carshare stations were co- located at Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Train, Light Rail, and Metro Subway stations to provide first-mile/last-mile access. The transit agency is exploring ways that microtransit options can connect lower-density areas with the MDOT MTA system. April 2020 Transit Agency New Mobility in the Bus Network Redesign Process Information Current As of AC Transit (Oakland, CA) AC Transit replaced one low-frequency fixed route service with two microtransit zones. These zones are currently averaging 4 boardings per hour; the transit agency feels that when a fixed route is between 6 and 10 boardings per hour it merits consideration of transitioning to DRT. Ridership on the microtransit services is around 20% lower than on the fixed route service it replaced. May 2019 Capital Metro (Austin, TX) Capital Metro recently transitioned their âMobility Innovation Zonesâ (zones for flexible on-demand transit) created in their bus network redesign. They were initially operated by a non-profit TNC but have since been converted to microtransit operated by the transit agency to address accessible services and payment by unbanked riders. The flex zones replaced local bus with the aim of connecting communities to high-frequency buses. However, the service in two of the four Mobility Innovation Zones currently has lower ridership than the ridership lost on the fixed route services. June 2020 Table 3. Examples of bus network redesigns and new mobility.
22 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Conclusions Having provided an overview of bus network redesignsâincluding their goals and the impe- tus for conducting themâalong with an overview of new mobility, this chapter ties the two together to show how bus network redesigns and planning for new mobility are being integrated. While new mobility is still nascent, it is playing a much larger role in transit agency offerings and is being considered as a viable complement to fixed route transit service; it is therefore looked at as a key consideration as transit agencies conduct their bus network redesign planning. The fol- lowing chapters provide details on the many components of bus network redesignsâincluding planning, public and stakeholder engagement, financial considerations, capital elements, and equityâand provide the reader with examples of how transit agencies across the country have risen to the many challenges inherent in creating and implementing transit plans of this magnitude.
23 Introduction This chapter provides an overview and examples of many of the key components of conduct- ing a bus network redesign: â¢ Bus network redesign planning process â¢ Goals and objectives â¢ Metrics â¢ New mobility and bus network redesigns â¢ Equity â¢ Public and stakeholder involvement â¢ Financial considerations â¢ Capital elements to support redesigned bus service Bus Network Redesign Planning Process Overview At the heart of a bus network redesign is the process of bus service planning, which looks at how resources can best be allocated across a transit system, so they create an effective network, provide service where needed, maximize ridership, and obtain many other objectives. Whether bus service planning is being done at a system level or on a small scale within a larger system, the service planning process at a high level remains the same: gather information, analyze and recommend, and engage stakeholders and the public. While it is common for bus operators to complete small, incremental changes to their bus network by modifying a single route or a few routes, a full overhaul of the entire system or a bus network redesign involves significantly more time, effort, coordination, and funding. Despite the variation in scale, the basic steps of bus service planning remain the same and can generally be divided into the following three components. Gather Information â¢ The outset of bus network planning is focused on creating a framework of understanding to guide the development of recommendations. Typical elements of the information gathering phase include the following: â A complete evaluation of all current bus service at the most granular level possible (e.g., at the route, trip, and segment level). â A market assessment to determine how well existing service meets demand. This includes determining parts of the service area with some level of transit propensity (i.e., likelihood C H A P T E R 3 Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning
24 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future for transit demand as well as reviewing travel flows, often from external sources, such as the regional travel demand model and/or purchased cell phone data). â The development (or revision) of performance standards for individual routes or the net- work; and documentation of resource, budgetary, and fleet resource constraints. â¢ Information should also be collected to inform the planning process from stakeholders that represent many perspectives, both those outside the transit agency as well as internal stake- holders including bus operations, bus operators, and union leadership. The more input that is received early, the better it can be incorporated into the planning process. Analyze and Recommend â¢ The second component begins by analyzing the performance of the existing service at the route and network level and comparing it with the service standards. Changes to service are then proposed that improve adherence to performance standards, address gaps in the market, and adhere to resource constraints. Engage Stakeholders and the Public â¢ This component is pivotal to ensuring the success of any proposed changes. Transit agencies engage the publicâboth in general and through community groups and non-profitsâto get their feedback on existing transit service, preferences, and proposed service changes. Recom- mendations are adjusted to reflect public feedback. â¢ At the outset of the planning process, it is important to make it clear that the changes devel- oped through the bus network redesign process are not just conceptual (i.e., the changes discussed will be made), and difficult trade-offs and decisions happen during a redesign. This can garner more support later in the process. â¢ Bus network redesigns also require a large component of public education before implemen- tation. There is a need for extensive public education on the finalized network so that people are prepared for how to get around once the changes are implemented. These components of service planning, combined with the many other related aspects of conducting bus network redesigns, can be generalized as shown in the approach in Figure 2. While bus network redesigns are, at their core, about planning bus service, some of the key elements that differentiate them from typical service planning include the following: Evaluating and planning the system from a holistic and systems approach. Because a bus network redesign is a service plan in which the entire bus system is evaluated, there can be an opportunity to examine the bus network and its utility in a holistic manner, and to examine the changes in land uses and activity centers on a metropolitan or regional scale. Bus network redesigns require extensive data analysis, both from within the transit agency and externally. Any service planning that transit agencies conduct for fixed route bus service necessarily relies on their own data, including ridership and on-time perfor- mance. Because automatic vehicle location (AVL) and automated passenger counters (APCs) are common in medium and large transit systems, getting this data at the route, trip, and segment level provides transit planners with incredible amounts of useful data for any transit service plan, including bus network redesigns. However, the use of data from the regional travel demand model and âbig data,â or purchased data that shows travel patterns throughout the region, is something that transit agencies are using to get a better sense of where the demand for trips exist. This allows the planners to consider travel needs outside of the service currently being offered by the transit agency. Redefining service types and design standards. A common initial step in conducting a bus network redesign is to reexamine and reapply service design standards and the development
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 25 of new service types to plan around them. By initially defining what is meant by certain types of service (i.e., high frequency, local, coverage) communications can be framed, expecta- tions can be set, and a solid set of guidelines for each service type produced. It can also be an opportunity to introduce new service types, such as general use on-demand transit, to areas where the transit agency seeks to remove low-productivity coverage service. Evaluating trade-offs on different types and characteristics of service. Bus network redesign often raises the fundamental choice between providing transit service in as much of the service area as possible or focusing it on those corridors and areas that are known to have a high demand for fixed route transit service. Given a finite set of resources, this is the classic service coverage versus frequent service on high ridership routes trade-off inherent in any planning effort. A systemwide bus network redesign can be one part of effectively allocating resources from low-productivity coverage service and high-productivity frequent service (or vice versa). Planning at the network level can make it easier to communicate trade-offs. Systemwide-level redesigns can be âeasier to sellâ to the entire community than when a specific route is examined in isolation. Initiate Study â¢ Develop internal support to initiate process. â¢ Identify key goals and constraints that will inform the planning process. Market and Service Assessment â¢ Analyze existing conditions. â¢ Evaluate performance of transit network. â¢ Identify service gaps or deficiencies that the bus network redesign will need to address. Preliminary Engagement â¢ Begin dialogue with the public about the existing transit system, what works, and what does not. â¢ Coordinate with key stakeholders in the region. â¢ Discuss trade-offs between service planning concepts such as coverage versus frequency, connections versus complexity. Regional Service Concepts â¢ Develop initial concepts for service and guiding principles for designing service. â¢ Develop route concepts, including alignments and high-level frequency and span. Iterative Engagement & Service Planning â¢ Bring concept plan to public and stakeholders. â¢ Refine plan based on feedback. â¢ Finalize plan and generate buy-in to move toward implementation. Implementa- tion â¢ Complete detailed implementation and service planning. â¢ Conduct staff training. â¢ Conduct necessary work on supporting investments in passenger information, infrastructure, etc. â¢ Conduct continual public outreach campaign to ensure public is aware of changes. Evaluation â¢ Monitor performance of service changes and public feedback. â¢ Conduct necessary service adjustments. Figure 2. Example of common planning process for bus network redesigns.
26 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Bus network redesigns are often pursued as something that should be cost neutral, that is, that the planned system has the same number of service hours as the current one, with the key difference being where and when those service hours are provided. Often the final plan does not adhere to that goal and additional funding can be required to close some gaps and appease stakeholders. Approaching the plan initially as cost-neutral system can lead to fruitful discussions with the public about the trade-offs in network planning when systems are constrained by limited resources. Additionally, the planning process should be flexible. One transit agency started its bus network redesign process anticipating significant new funds; however, when the funding did not materialize, the agency needed to completely revise the redesign to a âresource neutralâ one. Bus network redesigns are sometimes done in conjunction with other major transit system changes. Sometimes an impetus for redesigning the bus network is that the transit agency recently implemented new fixed guideway service (e.g., rail or BRT) that can prompt the transit agency to reconsider how to deploy its local bus services. For some transit agencies, this means reallocating service hours that are now covered by the fixed guideway route, and for others, it is more about reorienting service around the new fixed guideway(s). These ideas are described in more detail as follows. System-Level Evaluation and Planning Unlike traditional bus service planning, bus network redesigns allow transit agencies to restructure the transit network to better match regional travel demand in a way not possible through incremental or piecemeal service changes. It requires a more in-depth and extensive analysis of the performance of the bus network compared with network-level planning and design objectives (Byala et al. 2019, 75). These efforts often result in significant changes to the organization and structure of a transit network (Byala et al. 2019, 6-7). In addition to the general components of bus system planning, the bus network redesigns usually also include more in-depth analysis into the market, demographics, and travel flows to determine key-trip generators and attractors and common travel flows to ensure that the bus network is serving passengers according to their desired movements (Byala et al. 2019, 7). This includes confirming service on existing significant corridors because most transit systems have corridors where transit is performing well; planners should not lose sight of where service is working well as they evaluate the system and develop recommendations. Transit agencies often use one of two approaches for conducting a bus network redesign when determining how to approach the bus network changes. â¢ Blank slate. The blank slate approach involves scrapping the existing system and starting over (Byala et al. 2019, 73). The benefit of this approach is that systems can be reimagined without the constraints of previous planning and existing service. When using this approach, however, it is important not to unnecessarily change high performing routes for the sake of change, and also to manage the change and communicate it in a way that assures riders that the new system will easily get them where they need to go. â¢ Comprehensive existing system modification. The other option for the planning process in a bus network redesign is a comprehensive modification to the existing system, which involves changing many aspects of the bus system, but bases its structure on what cur- rently exists. The benefit of this approach is that existing functioning routes can be kept, which reduces the subsequent challenges that come with implementation. When using this approach, however, transit agencies must take care to be open minded about how revised route structures and service typologies could help them meet their objectives and not feel
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 27 tied to current services when there are opportunities to provide mobility and accessibility in a better way. In many cases, while these two planning approaches are different, the results of both methods may not differ to a great extent. This can especially be true in older cities with established development patterns, particularly in the urban core, and existing roadway net- works and other geographical features that put a limit on what changes might be needed and physically feasible. In a survey of transit agencies conducted in early 2018 as part of TCRP Synthesis 140, responses were fairly evenly split between transit agencies who reported taking a blank slate approach (54%) and transit agencies who made or intended to make changes that built upon their exist- ing network (46%) (Byala et al. 2019, 151). This split was relatively consistent between transit agencies that had already implemented a bus network redesign, those that plan to implement one, and those that were considering a bus network redesign (Figure 3). Regardless of the approach to bus network redesign planning, taking a fresh look at the entire network focused on meeting the goals and objectives defined by the transit agencyâsuch as efficiency, accessibility, and customer focusâcan result in a new system that can turn the tide of bus ridership decline. Service Types and Design Standards Another key element of bus network redesigns is the reexamination or creation of updated service standards for different types of bus service, such as high-frequency, local, circulator, and coverage service. Before a transit agency plans the new service, it can reexamine these definitions in terms of the design parameters, including frequency, span, directness, stop spacing, route spacing, levels of density, and ridership for which each service type is applicable. By setting these guidelines, the transit agency can better design its service to appropriately meet customer needs as well as have a ready explanation for why certain types of services were placed where they were. This gives the transit agency support to explain why a certain route is recommended at a given frequency, or why the route cannot deviate into a neighborhood. Source: Adapted from TCRP Synthesis 140: Bus Network Redesigns, 29. Figure 3. Planning approaches to bus network redesigns by status of redesign.
28 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future While transit agencies look at new employment and other activity centers as part of their bus network redesigns, these new areas may not have sufficient density or be pedestrian unfriendly, so setting design standards can keep the focusâespecially in a blank slate bus network redesignâ on areas where transit can be more effectively offered. â¢ HRT Transform Transit Project updated the transit agencyâs service types and design guide- lines. While its cost-constrained service plan was not able to include every route meeting the design guidelines, bringing the routes up to the level of service that they are designed to have is included in an expanded plan to take advantage of anticipated new state revenue. â¢ IndyGo new service standards were under development during the creation of the bus net- work redesign, and formally adopted after the redesign planning was completed. Having a support structure for its planning decisions was of great help to these two transit agencies as they proceeded to plan their bus services. Trade-offs Many transit agencies weigh the inherent trade-offs that must be made when trying to accom- plish different competing goals with a set budget, such as the following: â¢ Expanding or maintaining coverage to provide transit service in as much of the service area as possible. â¢ Increasing frequency or focusing it on corridors and areas that are known to have a high demand for fixed route transit service. â¢ Providing more direct service between locations or requiring transfers between higher-frequency service. â¢ Requiring longer walks to service with higher frequency or shorter walks to less frequent service. â¢ Increasing service during the peaks, midday, evenings, Saturdays, and/or Sundays. One trade-off transit agencies face is the allocation of a fixed supply of buses and how that allocation is balanced between how much area the service covers and how frequent the buses are on high-demand routes. This trade-off is often associated with the population density of the service area because higher density areas, such as urban cores and walkable, mixed-use develop- ment have more people that live and/or work within a reasonable distance of a transit station, and therefore have higher demand. Lower-density areas, on the other hand, tend to have lower ridership because there are fewer people living and/or working near each station. Fixed routes in high-density areas tend to have higher ridership and are therefore often more desirable for transit agencies. Determining how to create a bus system that accommodates these two groups while maximizing ridership is a challenge for any transit agency or operator that is redesigning their bus network. Another trade-off transit agencies face is whether to provide direct connections between many origin and destination pairs or to require more transfers. The latter option makes riding the bus system more complex but can also result in shorter travel times by enabling the transit agency to provide more frequent service on more routes. The transfer question becomes even more pertinent if a modal transfer is involved, particularly if a new fixed guideway mode (or a forced transfer to an existing one) is replacing what may have been a one-seat ride (i.e., without any transfers on a bus). Transit agencies and their customers also face the trade-off of when to provide more service. Adding more peak period service is typically limited by the size of the fleet; however, transit agencies can choose not to maximize the use of the entire fleet during peak hours but rather
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 29 reserve some of those operating costs to improving service during middays and on weekends. The following are examples: â¢ LA Metro determined that 85% of Los Angeles County residents used transit at least once in the prior year, and that short distance midday and evening trips represented the greatest opportunities to grow ridership. â¢ MDOT MTAâs bus network redesign in Baltimore in 2017 improved weekend service to accommodate the needs of the many riders that do not work traditional shift jobs and who use the service for other purposes than getting to work. As a result, weekend ridership on the bus system increased upon implementation. Discussing the trade-offs between different levels and types of service within a set budget can be a useful tool for stakeholders and the public to understand how limited resources manifest them- selves. If a transit agency focuses its limited resources on providing high-frequency service on more routes, for example, it necessitates reducing frequency on lower-performing routes or removing them entirely. It also could result in shortened travel times (due to shorter waits) but become more complex, especially for the uninitiated rider. Likewise, if a transit agency values coverage and direct connectionsâensuring that more people in their service area have access to some type of transit and that people have the one-seat ride that customers find desirableâthe quality of service on the more productive routes will suffer. Transit agencies must also consider how the results of these decisions will impact seniors and people with disabilities, such as those who are not able to walk or roll longer distances and find transferring buses more complicated and difficult than others in the population. Options to address these issues include keeping more coverage, keeping some direct connections on particular routes or connections that would have a higher proportion of these populations, adding flexible service in certain areas, and relying more on paratransit. As part of bus network redesigns, transit agencies often pose questions to the public about pref- erences to help guide the plan, such as âwould you be willing to walk farther to higher-frequency service or would you prefer a shorter walk with longer waits between buses,â âwould you prefer a direct connection on a lower-frequency route or would you be willing to transfer buses for higher- frequency service,â and âdo you prefer that the transit agency focus its resources on more peak, midday, late-night, or weekend service?â The results of these questions can guide a transit agency in terms of how their riders are willing to âgive upâ to receive better bus service and also what times of day and days of the week they should focus improvements on (see Figure 4). Note: Each dot represents a meeting participantâs opinion. Source: Foursquare ITP. Figure 4. Trade-off question and participant responses from HRTâs Transform Transit Project.
30 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future While these questions are effective in explaining the decisions that must be made in an environment with limited resources, the limited reliability of input on stated preference questions should not be over- looked. The following are examples: â¢ MDOT MTA. During initial outreach by MDOT MTA in Baltimore as part of its bus network redesign, public participants stated a pref- erence for improved frequency over coverage and a willingness to walk for better frequency. Once specific service recommendations were developed, however, public pushback led to the MDOT MTA re-introducing some of this coverage service. This experience suggests that even when there is theoretical preference for higher levels of service in lieu of better coverage, in practice such changes may prove to be unpopular. â¢ IndyGo. For the most part, IndyGo headed off this concern about loss of coverage by following the strategy of maintaining coverage service and adding more service to ridership-oriented routes with additional resources. â¢ COTA. To guide COTAâs redesign of its fixed route network, COTAâs Board of Trustees supported a policy to allocate 70% of resources to ridership service and 30% to coverage. However, during the bus network redesign process, stakeholders in downtown Columbus expressed their desire to reduce the number of buses operating on High Street, the primary north-south arterial of the city. While changes were made to COTAâs Downtown operations at the request of these stakeholders, despite the resulting impact of increased travel times, the ridership/coverage split did not change. Many transit agencies that conduct bus network redesigns set plan- ning parameters for a certain percentage of their service to be defined as âridership-oriented,â or high-frequency and high ridership service, with the remainder of the service defined as âcoverage-oriented,â or lower-frequency service to ensure transit access to a larger part of the service area. While these parameters are a way to think about how to plan service, typically transit agencies are trying to achieve other goals through their bus network redesignâsuch as accessibility, ridership, and efficiency. It is important to be clear that the planning parameters are not the goals of the bus network redesign but rather are guideposts to use in designing service to meet their true goals. Cost-Neutral Planning Even with smaller scale service planning projects, transit agencies need to be mindful of their operating budgets and fleet availability. Bus network redesigns are frequently conducted as cost-neutral plans. For example, bus network redesigns in Houston, Austin, and Baltimore were all planned for cost-neutral operations (although Austinâs and Houstonâs plans even- tually implemented systems with increased operating costs). However, with bus network redesigns, the cost-neutral requirement is often something that seems to run counter to their high-profile nature. If a transit agency has been relatively diligent about making changes to meet new land use and demographics over time, a net-neutral plan will not necessarily provide the âwow As part of its bus network redesign, IndyGo approached accommodating those who wanted to focus on higher- frequency bus service and those who wanted to focus on broader accessibility by âmaintaining service.â Essentially, any new service added would be ridership- oriented (it would go where there is high demand), but coverage-oriented service would generally not be removed as long as it was serving a need. Their long-term plan is to have 80% of their service be ridership-oriented and 20% be coverage-oriented, while they currently are closer to 60% ridership-oriented and 40% coverage-oriented. One of the trade-offs they are working with to increase frequency is that some trips require transfers when they previously did not. This allows for shorter bus routes along major corridors, which increases the frequency of service. This planning was undertaken with the assumption that a ballot measure would be passed, and therefore with the anticipation of increased funding, which limited the trade-offs that had to be weighed.
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 31 factorâ of a new system unless the transit agency is willing to make drastic changes to coverage to reallocate that service to significantly improved core service, force transfers between higher-frequency service, and/or reallocate the limited service hours between different times of day and different days of the week. In other words, without a willingness by the transit agencyâwhich depends heavily on the desire of the communityâto make big changes, reallocation of existing resources can take things only so far. That said, many other elements of a bus network redesign beyond the service planningâsuch as improve- ments in passenger amenities, bus priority, branding, and educationâ can still result in a big impact and provide some of that wow factor. Houston METRO and Baltimore MTA were both able to make a big impact even with small operating cost increases (Houston, at 4% or $12 million) or no operating cost increases through other investmentsâ which differ by city but included bus stop optimization, new bus stop signage, new branding, bus-priority treatments, and the benefits of a re-planned bus network, such as straighter routes, higher frequency, and service better suited to the current travel patterns, including more midday and weekend service. Incorporation of Fixed Guideway Services The opening or expansion of fixed guideway transit can be the impe- tus for a bus network redesign, or in some cases, part of the redesign planning process. Some transit agencies have planned bus network redesigns around future or recently implemented fixed guideway transit, including BRT and rail. For example, one transit agency used a bus-rail interface plan to provide adequate service during rail con- struction and scaled back bus service over time once the rail opened. Other transit agencies have stated that bus network redesigns serve as an impetus to future BRT service by planning for high-frequency corridors that would be best suited to additional bus-priority treat- ments that would eventually become BRT. Regardless of the order in which the planning occurs, transit agencies should consider how the bus network feeds into and leverages fixed guideway transit, regard- less of mode. â¢ AC Transitâs bus network redesign AC Go was initially oriented to better feed the regional rail system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), but had to be reoriented into a high-frequency bus plan after it was determined that BART did not have sufficient capacity for additional riders. â¢ COTAâs full implementation of the new, grid-based network planned for June 2020 was post- poned due to several factors related to COVID-19. IndyGo is continuing to assess staffing, equipment, and ridership levels to determine the most effective time to move forward with the full bus network redesign. COTA also planned a BRT route in a parallel effort to the bus network redesign, which considered the BRT route as part of the redesign planning process; the BRT opened about 8 months after the redesign was launched. â¢ IndyGoâs bus network redesign incorporated planning around three new BRT routes: the Red Line opened in 2019, the Purple Line planned for 2023, and the Blue Line anticipated in 2025 after the transit agency implements more capital improvements. Denver RTD addressed low-density areas by offering FlexRide, an on-demand service that has existed for approximately 20 years (though it was initially branded as Call-n-Ride when service began in 2000). This program provides service in low-density communities that do not have access to fixed route service, or whose fixed routes may have limited frequency/ span of service. There are approximately 1,800 boardings per day in 21 service areas, and the transit agencyâs rationale for providing these services is to provide more cost-effective services in suburban, low-density areas. Depending on the needs of each of these 21 service areas, FlexRide can offer on-demand service based on trip requests; timed pickups at transit stations or park-and-rides, where riders specify their destination upon boarding; and pre-set routes with designated pickup locations and passenger-requested drop off locations. In addition, a number of private companies have piloted first-mile/ last-mile services in partnership with specific cities around the Denver metro area to link to RTD stations, but to date these services have not been offered specifically by RTD.
32 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Goals and Objectives Through a bus network redesign, transit agencies seek to satisfy one or several overarching goals. As discussed in Chapter 2, examples of these goals include but are not limited to the following: â¢ Improving transit service for current and potential riders. â¢ Better matching the bus network with current and potential future ridership demand. â¢ Increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness and/or reducing overall operating costs. â¢ Accruing other important benefits, such as reducing dependency on personal cars, promoting environmental sustainability, or making the region more competitive. Beneath these overarching goals, transit agencies define more specific objectives. Commonly cited big-picture objectives stated by transit agencies with bus network redesigns underway or complete are shown in Figure 5. Regarding service planning objectives, these same respondents were most interested in âdecreasing the peak vehicle needâ (94%), âreducing travel timesâ (79%), and âincreasing span of serviceâ (73%) (Byala et al. 2019, 28). Though transit agencies considering bus network redesigns at the time of this survey were represented by a small sample size, it may be worth noting that this group was most interested in âreducing travel times,â âincreasing span of service,â âincreasing opportunities for transfer,â and âincreasing frequencyâ (Byala et al. 2019, 53). Metrics An important part of conducting a bus network redesign is for transit agencies to determine what metrics to use to compare the planned system to the current system. This step is crucial to gain support from the community and within the transit agency. The metrics discussed in this section should not be confused with performance metrics that transit agencies use to evaluate bus service on an ongoing basis. While some of the measures may be the same, the focus of this section is on anticipated outcomes of a bus network redesign and how transit agencies can evaluate anticipated outputs and outcomes of their new systems compared with their current ones. Transit agencies base the metrics on which to compare their current and future systems on the goals they lay out for their bus network redesign so that they can show how the new system will help them meet these goals. An example, from Baltimore, is shown in Table 4. Metrics can be measured through a variety of means, including counts (e.g., number of high-frequency routes), geographic information system (GIS) analysis (e.g., number of households within a certain dis- tance of transit), and modeling (e.g., ridership). Most transit agencies conducting bus network redesigns look at the number of routes in the current and proposed networks that provide high-frequency service. For example: â¢ Capital Metro. Capital Metroâs 2018 Cap Remap bus network redesign in Austin impacted more than half of the transit agencyâs 82 routes, with the number of high-frequency routes going from 6 to 14. â¢ COTA. Columbus, Ohioâs bus network redesign, implemented in 2017, led to the introduc- tion of twice as many high-frequency bus routes that arrive every 15 minutes or more fre- quently on major streets. â¢ Houston METRO. Before the Houston METRO bus network redesign was implemented in 2015, there were 11 routes plus the rail line that ran every 15 minutes or more frequently during the peak and midday hours on weekdays, with 3 frequent routes on Saturday and
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 33 Figure 5. Commonly cited big-picture objectives. (Note: Respondents had bus network redesigns underway or complete.) Source: Adapted from TCRP Synthesis 140: Bus Network Redesigns, 31-32.
34 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future 1 on Sunday. Once the bus network redesign was implemented, there were over 20 bus routes in addition to the now three rail lines, and these maintained that level of service 7 days a week (Houston METRO 2016). â¢ MDOT MTA. MDOT MTA in Baltimore had 14 routes plus 1 heavy rail line and 1 light rail line that operated every 15 minutes or more frequently during the peak and midday hours on weekdays prior to the launch of BaltimoreLink. Following BaltimoreLinkâs implementation, there were 18 frequent bus routes in addition to Metro SubwayLink and Light RailLink. Some systems set metrics for how many of their routes should be âridershipâ routes and how many should be âcoverageâ routes, where ridership routes are those with higher frequency and higher ridership per hour of service offered and coverage routes have lower frequency and lower ridership and serve the purpose of providing some transit to areas that otherwise could not support it. While not a metric per se, this is a planning tool that can be used to guide where resources should be allocated. Nevertheless, transit agencies conducting bus network redesigns often report on how resources are allocated before and after the planned changes. Many transit agencies conducting bus network redesigns evaluated how many people and jobs would have access to transit in general and high-frequency transit in the current and planned network. Some transit agencies also looked at more granular data, such as the change in numbers of low-income people with access to high-frequency transit. Ideally, access to transit is calculated based on distance to a bus stop or station as opposed to the route. For example, Houston METRO looked at the number of people, jobs, and current riders that would have access to frequent service, riders that would face longer walks to service, and the rough magnitude of ridership increase that could be expected. Likewise, transit agencies evaluate change based on change in coverage: the proportion of the area population with access to transit in general, or frequent transit in particular. Tran- sit agencies may also consider not just the gross population served, but conduct demographic analyses on populations served, looking at the change in proportion of people of different demo- graphic groupsâsuch as low-income, people with disabilities, seniors, carless householdsâthat are served by the current and planned networks (Bhattacharya et al. 2014; Houston METRO 2014; MDOT MTA 2018a). This high-level accessibility analysis is not a replacement for formal Title VI Service Equity Analysis. Some metrics are better examined at the system level rather than at individual route levels. One method of showing improvements to the system is to show how much time riders are Goals Sample Corresponding Metrics Improve service quality and reliability Average transit travel time Change to daily transfer rate Runtime changes due to dedicated lanes Maximize access to high-frequency transit People within Â¼ mile of frequent transit network Number of destinations (e.g., hospitals, supermarkets, public schools) within Â¼ mile of frequent transit network Strengthen connections between bus and rail routes Number of connections between high-frequency bus routes and rail stations Align the network with existing and emerging job centers Average number of jobs accessible to households within 30 and 45 minutes by transit Number of jobs within Â¼ mile of frequent transit network Change in number of transit trips by job center Table 4. Example bus network redesign goals and metrics (from Baltimore).
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 35 spending traveling along the system, including walking to and from the stations and traveling on the bus as well as evaluating transfer rates (though an increase in transfer rates does not necessarily imply longer travel times, as transfers may be between faster and more frequent service). A decrease in the time spent traveling shows an increase in the efficiency of the transit system (Bhattacharya et al. 2014; Houston METRO 2014; MDOT MTA 2018a). The following are examples: â¢ Houston METRO evaluated travel time change by analyzing travel time between nearly 900 representative trips around the city. â¢ IndyGo conducted several analyses on how its proposed grid-based network and improved route interconnectedness and frequency improvements would result in shorter waits and shorter trips. â¢ MDOT MTA in Baltimore analyzed changes in average transit travel time overall using the regional travel demand model. Transit agencies also use travel demand models to project changes to transit ridership, as was done for BaltimoreLink using the regional travel demand model and for the HRT Transform Transit Project. Another metric that is used is area commute mode shareâa decrease in driving can be indica- tive of a successful bus network redesign. This generally can only be measured by using the regional travel demand model. LA Metro has focused on mode share by origin-destination pairs by aiming to provide sufficiently fast service on transit; the transit agency noted that for trips that are just as fast or faster by transit, those origin-destination pairs achieved a 13% mode share. Some systems, particularly those with cost reduction or cost-neutrality goals, calculate the number of miles that buses are physically traveling. This metric was used by New York City Transit in the Staten Island Bus, network redesign where the transit agency used existing resources to improve the reliability, travel time, and frequency of Staten Islandâs express bus routes. Route mileage allocated to congested Manhattan streets was reduced, providing faster trips and improving reliability (New York City Transit Authority 2017). In addition to estimating the improvements beforehand, monitoring the updated transit system and making adjustments accordingly is also important to the implementation process. Enacting a new transit system will almost certainly have some bumps along the way, and every- thing cannot be predicted in the planning phase. Therefore, post-implementation monitoring metrics are key to creating the best system possible. In Barcelona, Spain, the transit agencies analyzed ridership trends post implementation to see how effective the system was. They noticed evidence of increased ridership, which led them to believe that their bus network redesign was successful (Badia et al. 2014). In Baltimore, MTA has implemented a robust performance mea- surement process to continually update the system since it began in 2017. When determining the performance of a route using any of the given metrics, transit agencies may have specific tools that they use to take measurements and experiment with route changes. For example, in its bus network redesign, AC Transit made use of a transit data-analysis tool, which they used to sketch designs and create maps. This type of program can allow a transit agency to make changes to the network in the software and simulate how those changes would impact overall ridership. New Mobility and Bus Network Redesigns Given the rapid introduction and adoption of new mobility options in the 2010s, most of the bus network redesigns implemented between 2013 and 2018 did not consider their integra- tion in the bus network redesign planning process or how new mobility options interact with
36 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future transit systems and change travel behavior. An exception to this is the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), which referred to its plan as a Comprehensive Operations Analysis, although it had all the necessary components for it to be considered a bus network redesign. DART has offered on-call zone service for more than 20 years to serve low-density areas that are not supportive of traditional fixed route service. Their Draft System Plan called for expansion in the numbers of zones as well as conversion of the zones to allow for more real-time reservations (Byala et al. 2019). In the late 2010s, increasingly bus network redesigns have either sought to directly incor- porate elements of new mobility into the redesign process, or more commonly, new mobility pilots or initiatives have occurred in parallel as an intermediary part of the redesign process or immediately following it. By 2016, over 30 transit organizations in the United States have partnered with new mobility providers to lower their costs and/or expand their service coverage (Tsay et al. 2016, 46). The following are examples: â¢ HRT, through its Transform Transit Project, identified six on-demand zones to complement the planned new bus network. The service is planned to be offered through microtransit and provide customers with rides within the zones and to nearby fixed route services, and implementation is now (as of spring 2020) being pursued in parallel with the bus network redesign. â¢ LA Metro as of spring 2020, had a pilot underway for on-demand services that would allow the transit agency to test the feasibility of microtransit to complement fixed route services in different parts of the county before deploying microtransit more widely throughout the system. If the pilot is deemed successful, the transit agency will then consider phasing out those less used fixed route services; depending on timing, these decisions may be incorpo- rated into the ongoing NextGen system redesign planning. â¢ UTAâs Service Choices bus network redesign did not initially include new mobility in its planning process: however, concurrently, the transit agency conducted a microtransit pilot that exceeded expectations quickly. As a result, UTA incorporated the examination of expanding microtransit as part of its Service Choices planning process. For many transit agencies, the new mobility elements incorporated into recent bus network redesigns or as separate pilots remain experimental, with various service delivery models and use cases under investigation. Integration with future service planning efforts, including bus network redesigns, will likely be informed by the performance of todayâs early new mobility partnerships and pilots. Incorporating Planning for New Mobility in the Bus Network Redesign Process Transit agencies have sought to incorporate new mobility with their existing services and into the bus network redesign planning process with distinct goals for how these new trans- portation options can enhance service quality, cost-effectiveness, system access, geographic coverage, or transportation equity. A survey of transit agencies conducted for TCRP Synthesis 140 assessed how transit agencies viewed emerging modes as impacting bus network redesigns. Twelve of the 33 transit agencies (36%) with bus network redesigns underway or complete reported their redesign effort was impacted by or was anticipated to be impacted by emerging modes. A plurality of transit agencies responding to the survey indicated that they were exploring working with TNCs in âpartnerships that provide serviceâ (67%), or through âassistance in filling first-mile/last-mile gapsâ (17%). One transit agency explained that they intended to divert some paratransit trips to TNCs (Byala et al. 2019, 39).
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 37 Table 5 provides an overview of how transit agencies interviewed for this project incorporated new mobility planning into their bus network redesigns and/or into other concurrent plans. Of the transit agencies that were interviewed for this research, seven transit agencies incorporated some form of new mobility planning into their bus network redesign planning, and another six planned for new mobility through a separate or parallel effort. Several approaches to incorporating new mobility providers in the context of bus network redesigns have been identified: â¢ Microtransit to Enhance Coverage and Service Quality â¢ TNCs, Micromobility, and Carshare to Enhance System Access â¢ New Mobility as an Alternative Service Model to Reduce Costs â¢ New Mobility to Increase Transportation Equity â¢ Transit System as the Foundation for MaaS Each of these approaches is explored in detail in the remainder of this section. Incorporating Microtransit to Enhance Coverage and Service Quality Transit agencies have long provided dial-a-ride services to offer more cost-effective and flex- ible service in low-density areas, but with the app-driven transit that is now availableâmaking During Planning Process Transit Agency Incorporated Microtransit Incorporated TNCs Incorporated Micromobility Incorporated Other New Mobility (e.g., carshare, MaaS, mobility hubs) AC Transit (Oakland, CA) Yes - - - Capital Metro (Austin, TX) - Yes* - - COTA (Columbus, OH) Yes* - - Yes* Clinton County Public Transit (Plattsburgh, NY) - - - - Denver RTD (Denver, CO) Yes - - Yes Gwinnett County Transit Division (Lawrenceville, GA) Yes Yes - - HRT (Norfolk, VA) Yes - - - IndyGo (Indianapolis, IN) - - - Yes* KCATA (Kansas City, MO) Yes* - - - LANTA (Allentown, PA) Yes - - - LA Metro (Los Angeles, CA) Yes* Yes* - - MDOT MTA (Baltimore, MD) Yes* - Yes Yes UTA (Salt Lake City, Utah) Yes* - - - VVTA (San Bernardino County, CA) Yes - - Yes* Note: * Indicates that the planning for incorporation of new mobility was conducted as a separate or parallel effort to the bus network redesign. Table 5. New mobility planning and bus network redesigns.
38 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future the trip request process both easier and more real timeâthis shared ride type of service is having a renaissance. Transit agencies may choose to subsidize new mobility services in instances where traditional transit service is poorly suited to meet travel needs in an efficient or cost-effective manner. Partnerships with private companies can potentially allow transit agencies to reduce service in areas with low demand, thus allowing transit agencies to funnel more resources to their core services (Tsay et al. 2016, 8). In practice, transit agenciesâ expe- riences with the incorporation of microtransit into their existing services and/or their bus network redesigns have varied. A reoccurring theme among commenters who noted technological, financial, and other issues with DRT service delivery was that the evolution of technology and customer expectations have forced transit agencies to rethink regulations, funding, and mode coordination. One commenter explained how their transit agencyâs âmain barrierâ to providing DRT to the public is competi- tion with TNCs; their transit agency lacks the monetary resources or fleet size to deliver services of the same caliber as private companies, such as TNCs (Volinski 2019, 40-41). Transit agencies that have proceeded with microtransit in connection with their bus network redesigns include the following: â¢ AC Transit incorporated microtransit into its bus network redesign by looking at areas with low performing bus routes, and the transit agency introduced two microtransit zones to replace low-frequency fixed route service. However, ridership on AC Transitâs microtransit âFlexâ service is 20% lower than that of the fixed route bus service that it replaced. â¢ Gwinnett County identified two areas with the potential for âflexâ microtransit service within their Comprehensive Operational Analysis and Transit Development Plan of their bus net- work redesign (see Figure 6). Only 17% of the countyâs residents could access fixed route bus service within walking distance, given the countyâs suburban nature. Flex service was viewed as a potential service model for providing access to transit for a greater proportion of county residents. The transit agency subsequently elected to implement a microtransit pilot in one of the identified zones, a socioeconomically diverse area with a variety of trip generators (e.g., retail, hospitals) to test the potential of microtransit as a model for attracting riders and enhancing transit access. Implementing a pilot allowed the transit agency to adjust to the technology, make iterative changes based on lessons learned throughout the pilot, and demonstrate that it can work before committing to deploy microtransit service on a regular basis. The pilot gave all the stakeholders, including the transit riders and transit agency staff, a chance to understand it without having to try to learn an entirely new system all at once. The pilot had dedicated funding allowing it to be offered fare free; while it was highly success- ful, it is unclear whether future implementations of microtransit in Gwinnett County would be fare free, nor what the impacts of charging a fare would be on future success. â¢ At HRT, the transit agency developed preliminary on-demand zones as part of the plan- ning process for its bus network redesign, which it subsequently refined through work with a microtransit provider to ensure that the zones would be the right size and cover the right areas to meet performance metrics. HRT wanted to make sure the on-demand zones did not conflict with existing and planned fixed route service on major arterials but rather provide access to it. The plan culminated in a submission to the state for a demonstration grant request which, if granted, is intended to see if demand is generated, if people are willing to share a ride, and for the private operator to determine if the service is financially sustainable. â¢ KCATA also utilized its experience with a microtransit pilot to inform future microtransit planning in their RideKC Next bus network redesign for the Kansas City, Missouri, part of their service area. In March 2016, KCATA became the first transit agency in the United States to launch a microtransit pilot in conjunction with private sector partners. While the initial microtransit pilot did not produce the ridership results expected, it did provide a crucial
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 39 Source: Gwinnett County Transit Division. Figure 6. Gwinnett County Transitâs proposed short-range system includes two flex service zones.
40 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future insight on integrating on-demand services at a transit agency. While the initial 2016 micro- transit pilot was in downtown Kansas City, which is well served by existing services, KCATAâs subsequent microtransit pilot was conducted in suburban communities in Kansas City, Kansas, with limited fixed route service and has been far more successful in attracting rider- ship, including many riders who are using the microtransit service to access KCATAâs fixed route bus service. KCATAâs experience has led the transit agency to view routes with fewer than 10 riders per hour as candidates for different types of serviceâeither microtransit or service through TNC partnerships. â¢ As of spring 2020, LA Metroâs 3-year microtransit pilot, scheduled to be launched in January 2021, includes 6 zones, narrowed down from 30. The planning for these zones was done in close coordination with the NextGen bus network redesign planning team. All selected zones have fixed route services that are not efficient in serving all markets, disadvantaged com- munities, and have demonstrated demand for alternative transportation services. The zones are designed to test distinct use cases, including enhancing first-mile/last-mile access to rail or high-frequency bus; bringing people from a rail station to a job center (Los Angeles Inter- national Airport); or to better serve suburban areas with circuitous streets. The microtransit pilot is giving the transit agency a chance to understand how microtransit may or may not work in various parts of their service area before they were to commit to deploying it more widely throughout their transit system. Success in some of the pilot locations would allow the transit agency to completely replace existing low-productivity fixed route bus service. Microtransit may be incorporated as a part of the NextGen Draft Plan, as LA Metro awaits the results of the pilot locations. â¢ UTA began a microtransit pilot (Figure 7) in November 2019 with the aim to explore how microtransit could serve part of their service area that currently has relatively low ridership on their route deviation services. Within the first 3 months of UTAâs microtransit pilot, rider- ship expectations were met even though the existing route deviation transit service in the pilotâs service area remained unchanged, though ridership on the route deviation service fell by 23%. As a result of COVID-19, however, microtransit ridership did not meet targets in spring 2020. Half of trips taken on microtransit connect to UTAâs rail stations; initially UTA expected a quarter of the trips would connect riders to UTAâs rail system. UTA staff believe that the microtransit pilotâs strong performance indicates previously unmet transit demand in the pilotâs service area, and they have since incorporated microtransit into the Service Choices bus network redesign planning process. Service Choices examined Source: Utah Transit Authority. Figure 7. A rider requests UTA microtransit service.
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 41 incorporating microtransit in parts of UTAâs service area that are similar to the microtransit pilotâareas with low-productivity fixed route bus service or no current transit service but that demonstrate demand for transit service. Incorporating TNCs, Micromobility, and Carshare to Enhance Access Micromobility (i.e., bikeshare and scooter share) and carshare have been included in bus network redesigns, including the following: â¢ MDOT MTA worked with the City of Baltimore to install bikeshare stations at key transfer points implemented in their BaltimoreLink bus network redesign; however, the bikeshare vendor later discontinued services. â¢ IndyGo worked with a publicly owned bikeshare system and a private carshare service in plan- ning for potential mobility hubs as part of their bus network redesign, although the carshare service later withdrew from the regional market. In spring 2020, IndyGo decided to pause development of mobility hubs. IndyGo is also exploring developing a relationship with a soft- ware company to help integrate Mobility on Demand (MOD), micromobility, microtransit, MaaS, and first-/last-mile operations efforts. New Mobility as an Alternative Service Model to Reduce Costs The potential to replace existing fixed route bus service with lower cost new mobility options factors into many transit agenciesâ initial motivations for exploring new mobility. The following are examples: â¢ Clinton County Public Transit eliminated their paratransit service in 2018 in favor of a combination of deviated fixed routes scheduled in advance and a ârural zoneâ dial-a-ride service with trips arranged in advance. Clinton County Public Transit made this change because of changes in Medicaid reimbursement rules resulting in a loss of 10% of the systemâs annual revenue. The transit agency believes many of those who were former para- transit users have access to the deviated fixed routes or rural service; the change has resulted in additional transfers for passengers. A local volunteer driver program and taxis have also replaced trips formerly taken on paratransit. Ridership has fallen by 20%, and while the changes have been unpopular with the public, there are no plans to introduce additional services or to re-introduce paratransit at this time. â¢ The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) of the St. Petersburg, Florida, area had to reduce its operating budget significantly following a failed transit-funding ballot referen- dum in 2014. To preserve service in areas with low-productivity fixed route bus service that would be eliminated, PSTA worked with a TNC and a local taxi company to provide trips at a discounted rate (Tsay et al. 2016). The program, called Direct Connect, allows riders to be picked up or dropped off from anywhere within 800 feet of a designated bus stop and receive a fare discount of $5 for a TNC or taxi ride or $25 off a wheelchair-accessible taxi ride (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority 2020). â¢ VVTA, which serves a 425-square-mile area in Southern California, conducted a microtransit pilot in a rural area with the primary purpose of serving ski resorts (though this was a separate effort from its bus network redesign). VVTA views microtransit as rebranded dial-a-ride ser- vice, and not necessarily a new or lower cost mode of transportation. The transit agency has also considered potentially partnering with a TNC for their program that provides rides at a discounted fare for senior citizens; however, due to expansive geography and the low presence of TNC vehicles in the region, it was found to be cost prohibitive. Another interviewee representing a suburban community expressed a sense that it is easier to get public support for a project that is âmarket-drivenâ (meaning partnering with a private pro- vider) than it is for fixed route transit. The transit agency, which partners with a private company
42 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future for on-demand services, believed the public viewed traditional bus services in a low-density, suburban area as not the best solution, and that the community believes more comprehen- sive coverage can be provided in a cost-effective way through flexible services. This situation is not unique and was manifested in another urban area conducting a bus network redesign where elected officials wanted their jurisdiction to have microtransit because they viewed that as the âprize,â when fixed route service would actually have provided better service for their constituents. New Mobility to Increase Transportation Equity Issues related to equity and accessibility have motivated transit agencies to provide micro- transit and DRT service. Motivations include jurisdictional equity (the notion that the entirety of the region contributing to transit via their taxes should receive some form of service); an expansion of economic opportunity for individuals who need the service to meet their daily needs; and continuing service for seniors and people with disabilities (Volinski 2019, 5, 16). Underpinning the expansion of economic opportunity is the idea that socioeconomically dis- advantaged persons may need assistance in accessing opportunities (Volinski 2019). Finally, the idea is that microtransit can provide service for seniors and people with disabilities in a more agile manner than traditional paratransit (Volinski 2019, 16-17). Some examples of the use of new mobility to enhance transportation equity include the following: â¢ Capital Metro. As part of Cap Remap, Capital Metro created Mobility Innovation Zones for on-demand service, with three of the four zones in minority communities. The zones were initially proposed in response to the planned loss in fixed route service in communities where the residents and the board felt that more service was still needed. Capital Metro partnered with a non-profit TNC to connect people to frequent routes. â¢ IndyGo is piloting an app that helps individuals with cognitive disabilities prepare for travel, alert them when they need to leave, and provide step-by-step directions to get to their des- tinations using pictures, vibration prompts, audio or text, thereby affording them with the opportunity to use public transit with greater ease and independence. IndyGo has also part- nered with a neighborhood community center to launch a neighborhood rideshare program. â¢ LA Metroâs MOD pilot partnership with a microtransit provider aimed to reduce barriers to first-mile/last-mile access to two rail stations and a bus terminal for disadvantaged communi- ties. Initially the pilot provided service only to or from the stations or bus terminal; during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pilot expanded to include point-to-point trips to grocery stores or medical facilities within the zone. Exploring the Transit System as the Foundation for MaaS Integration of service and fare payment options across public transportation systems is a well-established goal for many transit agencies, and one that has been achieved in some regions with multiple providers. Transit agencies often prefer a common online platform for all public transportation systems, including using the same fare structure and payment methods to sim- plify the process for customers (National Association of City Transportation Officials 2018, 7-8; Volinski 2019, 24). MaaS takes the concept of service and fare integration one step further, by integrating access and payment for both transit service and new mobility options into a single application. Although no region in the United States has yet achieved this concept, many in the transit industry are considering how transit agencies can prepare for, or become the backbone of, future MaaS implementations. APTA undertook a MaaS-focused European study tour in 2019 and identified several key findings for North American transit agencies preparing for the implementation of MaaS. Among these are that public transportation should be the foundation and backbone of
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 43 future integrations of mobility options, that the governance (as opposed to the technology) of MaaS is a key challenge, and that, prior to transit agencies in the United States undertaking a central role in the provision of MaaS solutions, that they should understand and leverage their own infrastructure and data and rethink their organizations to enhance innovation (APTA 2019). In the discussion group held for this study, participants expressed the belief that transit agencies should be more focused on increasing not just ridership, but transitâs overall mode share and the overall non-single occupancy vehicle mode share for all trips. They noted that performance metrics and discussion of transitâs overall mode share are largely absent from bus network redesigns, but that a shift in viewing public transportation as the backbone of the transportation system will require this type of thinking. This will represent a true âmentality shiftâ not just among transit agency staff, but boards and political leadership as well. APTA, in partnership with TNCs, has begun work with five cities across the United States to measure transportation system performance in terms of non-single occupancy vehicle mode share for all trips. â¢ IndyGo, in partnership with other transit and community service providers, is currently pursuing funding for the creation of a full-service Mobility Concierge program capable of facilitating the complete trip, and simplifying trip payment by brokering mobility trips across modes, payment systems, and transit providers. IndyGoâs partnership with several local social services organizations and educational institutions includes offering sponsored rides, whereby a third-party transit agency purchases (often at a discount) and distributes fare value to program participants, allowing participants to ride transit at no direct cost to themselves. â¢ LANTA is continuing to improve their mobile application to ease use, including to enable riders to track bus locations in real time. In the future, they hope to enhance their mobile application to enable paratransit users to order a service, live track, and pay for it all within the application. Impacts of New Mobility on Transit Agencies Beyond integrating new mobility services into a transit agencyâs services or into a bus net- work redesign, transit agencies may also consider the impact that these services are having on their systems today in the context of planning for redesigns. Two of the commonly explored impacts of new mobility on transit agencies include their impact on transit ridership and mode choice. Ridership and Mode Choice Since the mid-2010s, transit agencies across the country have reported declines in ridership, and increasing ridership was cited as a very important or somewhat important motivator for the bus network redesign in 31 of the 33 survey respondents who had recently conducted or were in the process of conducting a redesign (Byala et al. 2019, 31). In a recent survey of transit officials, 20% stated that ridership declines were a major concern for their organization, and nearly all indicated that boosting ridership was important for improving service (Eno Center for Trans- portation 2019, 4). The emergence of new mobility options, and the relationship between their use and transit ridership, was a topic of key concern for the transportation research community in the late 2010s. The relationship between the use of TNCs and transit ridership was the subject of numerous studies that resulted in conflicting results. The authors of TCRP Research Report 195 found that âthere is no clear relationship at the regional level between peak hour TNC use and longer-term changes in a regionâs public transitâ (Feigon and Murphy 2018, 2). This report studied six cities and found that weekday TNC trips (about 75%) predominately take place during off-peak hours,
44 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future which tends to be when transit ridership and frequency are the lowest. It additionally found that TNC usage and transit ridership have an unclear correlation to one another; some cities, such as Seattle, saw both high transit ridership and high TNC usage, while others, such as Washington, DC, saw an increase in TNC usage with a decrease in transit ridership (Feigon and Murphy 2018, 8; Shared-Use Mobility Center 2016a). Other cities, such as Nashville and Jacksonville, have also seen transit ridership increase alongside the introduction of TNCs (Tsay et al. 2016, 17). However, despite what some studies have revealed, surveys from various transit agencies have shown discrepancies as to what the impacts of TNCs are and how much they affect transit. A survey of public transit providers performed by the Eno Center for Transportation shows that 18% of respondents identified competition from TNCs as a concern in regard to ridership declines (Eno Center for Transportation 2019, 5). A previous Eno survey found similar results: there is a strong perception among transit providers that TNCs are absorbing some of their riders. The Eno report summarizes contrasting research that suggests that TNCs are capturing new riders who had previously traveled via a non-transit mode, or are acting as a substitute for transit when and where transit is weak, such as in sparsely populated areas or to address the first-mile/last-mile nexus (Eno Center for Transportation 2019, 5). The relationship between TNC use and transit ridership may vary from city to city. The use of other shared modes, including carshare, bikeshare, rideshare, and on-demand taxis, has been shown to correlate with an increased use of public transit. When compared with those who have not used shared mobility other than public transit and those who irregularly use shared mobility services, âsupersharersââthose who routinely incorporate shared modes into their travelâhave lower rates of personal vehicle ownership and transportation expenses. In one survey, 57% of âsupersharersâ indicated that public bus or train is the shared mode they use most often (Shared-Use Mobility Center 2016a, 5-9). There is also data to suggest that these modes are also less likely to replace transit trips: â¢ A study of the travel behavior of dockless carshare users in five North American cities found that in most cities, there was no change in public transit usage due to their usage of carshare; and in cities where there was a difference, there were more carshare users increasing their trips on transit than decreasing (Martin and Shaheen 2016). â¢ An evaluation of bikeshare and shared scooters in Santa Monica, California, found that nearly half of trips using these modes would have otherwise been made by car, while 39% would otherwise have been made on foot (City of Santa Monica 2019). â¢ In the Washington, DC, region, users of shared scooters and bikeshare would have other- wise used a car for around a third of trips, and only 6% of these trips would have otherwise taken place on transit (Meese 2019). There is no clear consensus on the impact of new mobility services on fixed route transit ridership, because interviewees have differing experiences and the inclusion of new mobility services in transit agenciesâ offerings is still nascent. In fact, many interviewees were a bit pessi- mistic and wary about the actual motives of ânew mobilityâ companies and their actual intent to complement versus supplement transit. One transit agency, IndyGo, expressed hope that while transit ridership could decline in the short term given the greater availability of new mobility options and an increase in competition between existing transit service and areas served by new mobility, people who give up personal vehicles may ultimately increase demand for transit in the long term. IndyGo staff expressed an interest in shaping transit service to complement, rather than compete with, new mobility, to foster connections between these two modes of travel. Integrating these services into one com- plete system can cover gaps in the existing transit system, such as first-mile/last-mile connections and adequately serving low-density and low-demand areas.
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 45 Equity Equity considerations are integral to bus network redesign planning efforts. Transit agencies are required to ensure that their planning activities comply with FTA regulations that pertain to Title VI and the ADA. However, many transit agencies have sought to go beyond these regulatory requirements and explore how bus network redesigns can enhance access to high-frequency transit, jobs, medical care, and educational and social services for traditional disadvantaged populations. Some examples of how transit agencies have incorporated equity considerations into their bus network redesign planning include the following: â¢ Transit propensity analysis. UTAâs Service Choices bus network redesign employs an analysis called the âTransit Propensity Index,â in which areas with higher proportions of low-income and minority populations are weighted more heavily than other areas; they are actively planning for more access to transit and microtransit in those areas. â¢ Equitable access to transit. Many transit agencies, including MDOT MTA, IndyGo, and Capital Metro, analyzed how the planned bus network changes will impact the share of the minority and low-income population that will have access to transit to ensure that they are increasing access to transit (and frequent transit) with the planned changes. â¢ Access to jobs and healthcare. COTAâs CMAX BRT, planned as part of its bus network redesign but implemented after all other changes, was designed with the explicit aim of increasing access to jobs and healthcare services for residents in a low-income, predominately minority neighborhood. This neighborhoodâs high infant mortality rate, and the potential to reduce it through reliable access to convenient, frequent transit, was a key motivating factor in implementing CMAX. IndyGoâs bus network redesign also features three new BRT routes that increase access to frequent transit in some of the cityâs most underserved neighborhoods. â¢ Accessible on-demand microtransit. Arlington, Texas, which provides transit only through an on-demand microtransit service operated by a third party (Figure 8), requires their mobility systems company partner to provide a quality of service for riders needing wheel- chair accessibility at the same level as those who do not. However, because of Arlingtonâs comprehensive and pre-existing Handitran paratransit service, their microtransit service receives few requests for rides that require ADA accessibility. The microtransit service does provide accessible service using a few Handitran vehicles on the mobility systems companyâs platform and is working to convert part of their vehicle fleet to accommodate passengers with disabilities. Source: City of Arlington. Figure 8. Via van in downtown Arlington, Texas.
46 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future While this section covers how transit agencies can plan for these communities, outreach to these communities during the bus network redesign planning and education process is covered in Chapter 4. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Transit ridersâespecially bus ridersâtrend lower income and higher minority in compar- ison with overall regional demographics. Bus service is often their lifeline to job opportunities, education, shopping, and social interactions. It is critical that transit agencies conducting bus network redesigns consider the needs of these populations front and center as they rethink their bus networks as a matter of good public policy first and foremost. In addition, transit agencies must also comply with federal requirements related to serving low-income and minority populations. Title VI protects people based on their race, color, and national origin from discrimination when accessing services supported by federal funding. Although socioeconomic status, particu- larly low-income status, is not a protected group under Title VI, the FTA regulations in FTA Circular 4702.1B require that transit agencies with 50 or more vehicles in peak period service determine whether proposed service or fare changes will result in a âdisproportionate burdenâ to low-income persons, just as they are required to determine if proposed service or fare changes will result in a âdisparate impactâ to minority populations. When redesigning a bus network, it is imperative that transit agencies ensure that any changes made to the bus system do not result in a disparate impact to minority populations or a disproportionate burden to low-income populations. Developing a sound method (consistent with FTA guidelines) and scheduling the Title VI Service Equity Analysis appropriately into the planning process are key to ensuring the redesigned system is completed in a non-discriminatory fashion. Many transit agencies incorporated equity and Title VI throughout the bus network redesign planning processâeither through formal Title VI analysis or a close proxy. Some examples of how transit agencies addressed Title VI during their redesign planning process are as follows: â¢ IndyGo took a proactive approach not only to ensure their bus network redesign changes would not result in a disparate impact or disproportionate burden, but also to use their redesign as an opportunity to increase transportation equity more broadly. This approach included first identifying where Title VI protected populations lived within their service area. Areas with high concentrations of Title VI protected populations coincided with neighbor- hoods with high proportions of low-income persons as well as neighborhoods with high transit ridership. IndyGo focused their redesigned service heavily on increasing ridership through high-frequency routes instead of direct service, with the aim of benefiting low-income and minority communities that had high transit ridership pre-redesign. Additionally, part of the new BRT system will be in areas of the city that have sizable low-income populations. â¢ MDOT MTA incorporated Title VI analyses throughout their bus network redesign process with a preliminary service equity analysis conducted with each draft plan. Equity was a major consideration in their redesign efforts; 70% of all MDOT MTA bus routes traverse areas with high concentrations of Title VI protected populations, and many of these areas generate a lot of ridership. MTA determined that a traditional route-by-route service equity method could not accurately capture the systemwide impacts of a full system design, and as a result, the transit agency designed a new systemwide service equity method that analyzed changes in frequency (i.e., number of buses per hour), presence or absence of bus service, and the span of service at the census block group level. This new method provided the transit agency with the ability to identify the impact of proposed service changes to individual populations and important community facilities at very small geographic levels. During the planning process,
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 47 service planners examined service changes in each census block group that was identified as having potential disparate impacts to minority communities or disproportionate burdens to low-income communities in each iteration of the draft plan through the final plan and modified plans to address identified issues. Because of their careful planning and their Title VI analysis throughout the bus network redesign process, coverage in these communities actually expanded as a result of the redesign. Other transit agencies conducted Title VI analysis either just before finalizing the bus network redesign plans or separately, closer to actual implementation as follows: â¢ COTA conducted a Title VI analysis prior to the finalization of its bus network redesign. As a result of the Title VI analysis, three specific changes to the redesign were made that impacted the preferred network; these modifications were specifically identified as part of the Title VI analysis incorporated in the final plan before implementation of the redesign. As part of its Title VI analysis, COTA also altered the metrics the transit agency utilized to measure the impact of proposed service changes; similar to MDOT MTA, the transit agency measured the number of scheduled bus trips per census block. If a census blockâs number of daily bus trips decreased by 25% or more, it was identified as an adverse effect that could result in a disparate impact or disproportionate burden. â¢ For KCATA and LA Metro, the analysis for Title VI was conducted separately from the bus network redesign process. For LA Metro, the service equity analysis was conducted by the planning department, while most of the redesign was done by the operations department. Similarly, KCATA conducted a separate Title VI analysis from their bus network redesign planning. They have not encountered any issues thus far, but this may change as the redesign is implemented. â¢ LANTA did not include Title VI as part of their planning process because they viewed the studies they performed as providing a âhigh-levelâ overview of what the system should look like at a regional scale. ADA and Service to People with Disabilities FTA regulations stipulate the provision of complementary paratransit service within three- fourths of a mile on both sides of each fixed route and an area with a three-fourths of a mile radius at the ends of each fixed route that aligns with the routeâs span of service. Although some transit agencies opt to provide paratransit service beyond what is required by the regulations, for transit agencies whose paratransit service area extends within three-fourths of a mile of fixed routes, a bus network redesign has the potential to greatly alter transit service available to paratransit users. Additionally, there are riders who are eligible for paratransit but are able to use fixed route service. Bus network redesigns should consider their needs when evaluating alternatives that require longer walks to fixed route transit; not only is fixed route transit often more appealing to this population, but it is a much less expensive trip to provide for the transit agency. Some examples of how transit agencies accounted for the needs of people with disabili- ties include the following: â¢ Capital Metro provides complementary paratransit service within three-fourths of a mile from their fixed route service. During the planning for their Cap Remap bus network redesign, Capital Metro did not have data to conduct a detailed analysis of specific trip patterns (neither on the fixed route service nor on the paratransit) within their service area. However, their Access Advisory Committee, which includes people with disabilities as well as external advo- cacy groups for the disability community, was involved throughout the Cap Remap planning process. The transit agency received positive feedback from the disability community on the introduction of more frequent service on key corridors because the availability of more
48 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future service would reduce the frequency of wheelchair users being unable to board a bus as a result of all tie-downs being in use. While Cap Remap resulted in a simpler system with more con- sistent fixed route spans that also simplified their complementary ADA service, it did result in a smaller paratransit service area. Paratransit users that would lose access to the system brought their concerns to Capital Metroâs board, and as a result, existing paratransit users were âgrandfatheredâ into the system and did not lose their service. â¢ LA Metroâs NextGen bus network redesign similarly explored how the redesign would impact paratransit coverage. Working with the transit agencyâs Access Services department, they identified areas currently within three-quarters of a mile of fixed route bus service that would no longer be eligible to be served by paratransit post implementation of the bus net- work redesign. As of early 2020, Access Services, the Consolidated Transportation Services Agency for Los Angeles County, was planning to continue to provide service to current paratransit users in these areas, but they have received requests to include any eligible indi- vidual in the future. Public and Stakeholder Involvement Introduction When a transit agency scopes its bus network redesign, one crucial element is a public and stakeholder involvement or engagement plan. This section lays out a detailed strategy for how a transit agency can involve the public in the planning process from start to finish; further infor- mation is provided in Toolkit #1: Bus Network Redesign. Bus network redesigns involve at least two rounds of public engagement, in addition to ongoing maintenance of communications through website updates and other means. The objective of the first round is to identify issues and priorities (âvisioningâ stage), the purpose of the second round (and perhaps subsequent rounds) is to present the public with possible service alternatives (âplanningâ stage). Simply put, the visioning stage should be used to identify issues, establish priorities, and set goals, while the engagement conducted during the planning stage should be used to identify whether further modifications to the plans are desired, to educate the public and stakeholders on how the improvements will benefit them, and to obtain stake- holder buy-in (Figure 9). Some transit agencies also opt to engage the public after the final plan is released, typically as part of the public education process. While there are certainly discrete outreach stages where the transit agency makes large efforts to reach the public and stakeholder groups, it is key that the transit agency have an ongoing outreach program to keep interested parties engaged and up to date on the process. This can be done through website updates, social media, earned and paid media, onboard advertisements, and continued meetings with key stakeholder groups. Identify issues, priorities, and goals. Educate on purpose and trade-offs. Visioning Determine desired plan modifications, educate on benefits, achieve buy- in. Draft Plan(s) Communicate forthcoming service changes and educate on new system. Final Plan Figure 9. Public engagement and education objectives for each bus network redesign stage.
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 49 Engaging Disadvantaged Populations A bus network redesign will not be successful if the community it is meant to serve is not generally onboard with the concept of conducting such a wide-ranging service plan. Outreach is necessary to all members of the community, but studies show that outreach is even more important for specific subgroups, particularly historically disadvantaged groups, such as low- income, persons of color, seniors, and people with disabilities. These groups are more likely to be transit-dependent and therefore could be dramatically impacted by a bus network redesign (Shared-Use Mobility Center 2016a, 20). Transit agencies should, at a minimum, follow their Title VI Public Participation Plan and Language Assistance Plan to ensure that outreach is conducted to minority groups and that materials are translated into appropriate languages. Specifically, outreach with disadvantaged groups should be frequent and comprehensive to ensure the transit update meets their specific needs. Neglecting to engage the public early and often could not only result in an inferior product, but could easily delay the bus network redesign process further down the road, as individuals in the community may not recognize the benefits of redesign, feel that they did not have a say in the matter, and resist the change (Boyle and Rey 2012). Existing literature points to the role effective engagement has on the publicâs perception of service changes. A study of a low-income community in Tallahassee suggested that, despite gaining improved service from a bus network redesign, the community perceived the redesign as disadvantageous. The community believed that their voices had not been heard in the process and therefore were not reflected in the bus network redesign. Despite service being improved in that area, the belief that they were not benefited deterred people in the community from using the service to its full advantage (Bhattacharya et al. 2014, 2-7). This shows that success- ful bus network redesigns go beyond simply building a system that is better for people; they involve showing the patrons the advantages of the system, and showing the community that their opinions are being heard and incorporated into the final design. Engaging disadvantaged populations and getting their input can shed light on aspects of a bus network redesign that planners might overlook. For example, during the BaltimoreLink bus network redesign outreach, some residents of low-income communities pointed out that while they were in general willing to walk farther to high-frequency service, they felt unsafe doing so at night near where they lived. Diversity in Input Through Stakeholder Groups Diversity in input was a common theme among interviewees as an important element to achieving community buy-in. Transit agencies were generally very deliberate in ensuring that public engagement was conducted with all communities, including low-income, minority, and those with limited English proficiency. In addition to holding public meetings and events in places that will reach these communities, working with organizations and stakeholder groups that represent the community at large and specific groups within the community is an effective way to reach many people. Transit agency interviewees listed the following types of organizations and stakeholders involved in the outreach process: â¢ Business community â¢ Disability community â¢ Employment agencies â¢ Healthcare providers
50 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future â¢ Faith-based groups â¢ Neighborhood groups â¢ Refugee community representatives â¢ Senior citizen groups â¢ Transit advocates â¢ Transit agencies â¢ Universities and school districts The research revealed the following examples of outreach and public engagement through stakeholder groups to reach a diverse audience: â¢ Gwinnett County Transit Division worked with a local community organization to help engage the local Vietnamese and Korean communities to ensure their needs were considered in the process. â¢ Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) not only held community meetings and public hearings, but spoke with community leaders representing different communities, such as United Way and Rotary clubs. They also made a concerted effort to ensure that the people conducting the outreach to these communities matched the community demo- graphics (Jacksonville Transportation Authority n.d.). â¢ LA Metro relied on a robust external working group to vet its recommendations; this group includes representatives from aging and disability committees, the transit agencyâs paratransit provider, and other organizations that represent traditionally hard to reach populations. â¢ IndyGo had a similar approach when looking to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, specifically people with disabilities. They conducted outreach targeted at transit riders with disabilities and organizations that work with such individuals, including American Associa- tion of Retired Persons (AARP). They also have the Mobility Advisory Committee made up of community volunteers representing people with disabilities, each of whom is either a transit user with disabilities, someone who provides services to people with disabilities, or someone who employs people with disabilities. This committee is responsible for remaining engaged on any issues related to equity and the mobility-impaired populations. When to Engage When undertaking a bus network redesign effort, transit agencies face the challenge of determining when to begin engagement and how much engagement to undertake. The short answer is that one cannot begin early enough nor do too much. Public outreach should be âearly, comprehensive, and exhaustive,â and the publicâs participation in this outreach should be âactively encouragedâ (Byala et al. 2019, 21). Engaging the public at the beginning of the effort is crucial to establishing an understanding of the purpose of the effort and gaining the trust of the public and key stakeholder groups. This initial education period typically includes sharing information on the goals and objectives of the bus network redesign, system perfor- mance, market assessment and demographics, and discussions and exercises to educate the public about trade-offs that are necessary when planning transit service with fixed resources and competing needs. All transit agencies that responded to the survey conducted as part of TCRP Synthesis 140 either consulted or were intending to consult with the public during their bus network rede- sign planning process. Among systems that already completed a redesign, 88% of respondents indicated the public was usually consulted after draft and final versions of scenarios were devel- oped, and slightly less often at the visioning stage (71% of respondents). Transit agencies with bus network redesigns underway followed a similar pattern of outreach but had a stronger
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 51 preference to consult the public after final scenarios were developed, likely as part of the edu- cation process for implementation (Byala et al. 2019, 44). Transit agencies also admitted they sometimes fail to fully communicate what they are doing until late in the process, including public education about what was to be lost and gained by proposed changes. According to one transit agency interviewee, loss of one-seat rides was not made apparent until implementation of the plan, resulting in last-minute challenges. Another transit agency interviewee expressed similar concerns regarding public input that arrives only after service changes have been implemented. In another transit agencyâs experience, the public often assumes that service change studies are merely conceptual instead of realizing they are meant to be implemented in their communities. How to Engage Meetings and Online Engagement Transit agencies utilize a variety of tools to perform public outreach. Public meetings remain a common tool for public outreach and were performed by transit agencies throughout bus network redesign processes (Byala et al. 2019, 19). Transit agencies may choose to perform these for both the general public, and/or specific groups, such as people with disabilities or limited English proficiency (New York City Transit Authority 2017, 5-7; MDOT MTA 2017; MDOT MTA 2018a). Public meetings also are sometimes done as a âpop-up,â which is when transit representatives go to transit stations or other centralized locations to do outreach (Halifax Transit 2016; MDOT MTA 2017; MDOT MTA 2018a). In addition to public meetings, the internetâeither part of the operatorâs website or as a standalone siteâis also a common tool for outreach. Some transit agencies created new online tools to help engage the public, and many chose to utilize social media, such as Twitter, to provide information and answer public questions (New York City Transit Authority 2017, 5-7; Dallas Area Rapid Transit 2016, 7). Nearly all the transit agency interviewees listed public meetings and web outreach as methods for engaging with constituents. They reported varying degrees of success with public engage- ment efforts for their bus network redesigns. Public engagement is a time and resource intensive process and can highlight significant resistance to any change when the transit agencyâs focus is on gathering input on how best to shape the change. â¢ IndyGo cited robust public engagement as a crucial factor in ensuring support of their bus network redesign. Among the public agencies conducting outreach for their redesign, there were more than 500 engagements and over 30,000 individuals who were directly reached throughout the public engagement process, including through public meetings, stakeholder group presentations, and pop-up meetings at festivals and fairs. This was in addition to the public engagement and advertising that was undertaken by partner community groups such as IndyCan, which made over 150,000 phone calls to residents and conducted outreach at meetings and through speaking with riders at bus stops (Touhy 2016). The transit agency also had a robust website-based engagement and education with over 110,000 webpage visits and 300,000 webpage views. â¢ Gwinnett County Transit Division used a variety of engagement methods (Figure 10). When working on the early stages of their bus network redesign, the transit agency reached out to the public using rider surveys, which ensured that those who use transit have a strong voice in any changes that may be made to the system. Other transit agencies also used surveys to gain input from the community; for example, MTA in Baltimore conducted an intercept survey of transit riders through pop-ups at major bus transfer locations at the beginning of their bus network redesign process to gauge opinions on trade-offs. This information from the survey was then used to inform the planning process.
52 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Clear Information and Discussions of Trade-offs Community engagement can go a long way to gaining the support of the community, as illustrated by the example of Houston METROâs bus network redesign effort. Houston METRO worked with the public to communicate the financial trade-off that must be made when per- forming a redesign. Transit agencies have limited budgets and capital resources that restrict the amount of new service they can provide. Houston METRO had a goal to allocate service in a way that maximizes ridership, which usually means concentrating service in the densest areas and leaving some areas with little or no service. To convey this dilemma, Houston METRO staff held a meeting with members of the public, including individuals who represented specific dis- advantaged groups. Members of the community participated in a charrette where they allocated the limited budget among different needs. According to Houston METRO staff, this helped to get stakeholders onboard with the proposed changes, which ultimately helped get the design implemented. In addition, the experience proved educational for the staff, who gained deeper insights about the system from those who depend on it, and ultimately made changes to make the system more equitable. Use of clear information to convey changes to the public was a common refrain. This can take a variety of forms. For example, transit agencies listed use of transit analysis technologies, such as online mapping, and highlighting specific documents (e.g., strategic plans) as helpful in Source: Gwinnett County Transit Division. Figure 10. Summary of Connect Gwinnett outreach efforts.
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 53 engaging the public. Others cited creating platforms to show riders how their trip would change, such as a side-by-side trip planner using current and planned General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) feeds. Determining the right level of specificity in the information provided to riders is crucial to the outreach process. MDOT MTA discussed a need to better educate riders about how they would get to their destinations once the changes were in place. However, the transit agency indicated that framing the discussion in terms of trade-offsâfor example, emphasizing that service improvements would result in the elimination of one-seat ridesâonly frustrated riders and directed attention away from the improvements they would be seeing. Another transit agency indicated a need to express to the public that the outreach process was not just part of a conceptual study but was rather indicative of real changes they would see in their community. Financial Considerations Bus network redesigns must consider costs for conducting the redesign plan (and all of its many parts, from planning, to public and stakeholder engagement, to implementation plan- ning); operating cost impacts of redesigned service; associated capital costs; and fares. Planning Cost A survey conducted in early 2018 as part of TCRP Synthesis 140: Bus Network Redesigns asked transit agencies several questions about the cost of bus network redesign planning (see Fig- ure 11). Most respondents reported having spent between $100,000 and $500,000 planning their bus network redesign; however, larger transit agencies tend to spend much more (Byala et al. 2019, 188, 190), and depending on what the transit agency relies on a consultant for, the cost can vary greatly. In fact, according to some interviewees, midsize to larger transit agencies should expect to spend at least $1,000,000 and up to several million dollars for a complete system evaluation, service plan, public engagement, and implementation plan. By and large, transit agencies reported funding their bus network redesign planning efforts through Agency General Funds (Byala et al. 2019, 185). Most respondents (85%) undergoing or with completed redesigns indicated planning work was done by a mix of transit agency staff Figure 11. Bus network redesign planning cost. Source: Adapted from TCRP Synthesis 140: Bus Network Redesigns, 180-182.
54 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future and consultants. Within this âmix,â respondents indicated that consultants were responsible for most of the work (85%) (Byala et al. 2019, 46). Operating Cost Implications of Redesigned Service When asked what impact the bus network redesign would have on their annual operating budget, two-thirds of respondents to the survey conducted as part of TCRP Synthesis 140 with a redesign either underway or completed stated the redesign has or will impact their operating budget, with the clear majority of those transit agencies specifying this as a budget increase. The only two transit agencies to report an operations budget decrease also indicated âincrease opera- tional efficiency and effectivenessâ to be a particularly important big-picture goal of their bus network redesign. However, the way the two transit agencies achieved operations cost reduction was likely quite different, as evidenced by the fact that they reported contrasting service design priorities (Byala et al. 2019, 47). To support increased operations costs, transit agencies report relying on a âreallocation of existing operating budgetâ and âtax/dedicated funding sourcesâ (Byala et al. 2019, 193). â¢ Capital Metroâs initial plans for Cap Remap were cost neutral in nature; however, as the plan developed, community and board engagement led to changes that increased the operating hours by 8%, resulting in $8 to $10 million increases in total operating costs. Many of these changes involved retaining local service (i.e., service to all stops, on new high-frequency corridors); this approach was continued in the subsequent planning effort for high-capacity transit. Planning staff emphasized the benefits of the âtrue networkâ that the Cap Remap plan would provide to the public, key stakeholders, and decisionmakers to gain support for increas- ing the transit agencyâs budget. â¢ COTAâs Transit System Redesign bus network redesign was not cost neutral, as they were expecting to expand service through 2019; in 2006, a temporary, 10-year, renewable quarter percent sales tax to support transit passed, adding to the transit agencyâs permanent quarter percent sales tax. In 2013, COTA provided 918,000 service hours, and by 2019 that figure had risen to 1.24 million service hours. â¢ Houston METROâs New Bus Network implemented in 2015 aimed for a cost-neutral oper- ating plan. Even though the bus network redesign followed on the heels of two new light rail lines opening, most of the savings gained from replacing bus service with light rail was reinvested in a parallel corridor. Houston METROâs plans initially kept the operating costs neutral through other changes like elimination of route duplication, straightening routes, and providing limited stop service. However, before the plan was finalized, the transit agency ulti- mately increased operating costs by 4%, or $12 million, reinstating some services to address community concerns. â¢ MDOT MTAâs bus network redesign implemented in 2017 in Baltimore was operating cost neutral; however, service changes centered around a branded high-frequency network indi- cated by colored route names instead of numbers provided improved service and the impres- sion that drastic changes were being made. That was complemented by significant capital investments in branding, bus stop optimization and signage, and bus priority, so even though it was cost neutral from an operations perspective, the implementation was a major change for riders. Capital Cost Implications of Redesigned Service On top of the costs of additional service that may be recommended as part of a bus network redesign, the transit agency must consider the costs associated with implementing the new service. These include necessary items, such as additional vehicles if the plans require more peak vehicles
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 55 than the current system requires, expanded and new transfer facilities, and bus stop signage and curb space investments, including ADA acces- sibility investments, to accommodate the new service. Additionally, other capital costs, such as bus-priority treatments, that can maximize and leverage the service plan must also be considered. More information about these specific capital needs is provided in the Capital Elements to Support Redesigned Bus Service section in this chapter. Fares Another challenge faced by transit agencies is whether and how to adapt their fare systems as they implement bus network redesigns. A byproduct of developing a high-frequency network and reducing net- work inefficiencies is that a greater share of riders may have to trans- fer to reach their final destination; in systems that charge to transfer between buses and/or between modes, this can have an impact on rider- ship and equity. Some of the challenges and approaches to fare system and fares related to bus network redesigns are as follows: â¢ MDOT MTA. When the BaltimoreLink bus network redesign was implemented, the fare policy did not allow for free transfers on buses, regardless of whether the fare was paid by cash or a fare card. Prior to implementation, allowing free transfers for users of the fare card, or CharmCard, was discussed but ultimately not implemented. However, about a year after implementation, the transit agency adopted the CharmPass, a mobile payment application that allows for free transfers within a set time. While this happened later than the implementa- tion, part of the push for a free transfer fare was to reduce the cost for riders taking advantage of the bus network redesignâs high-frequency grid network. â¢ LA Metro. The transit agency is not considering fare policy in its bus network redesign but acknowledged that there are considerations regarding transfers as there is a small transfer fee between LA Metro and the municipal operators. Also, there are no free or reduced-price transfers allowed if the rider pays cash, which accounts for 30% of riders on LA Metro buses and a much higher number on the municipal operators. â¢ UTA. The transit agency is not examining their fare policy in conjunction with their Service Choices bus network redesign, but they are conducting a contemporaneous, independent evaluation of their fare policy. UTA is also hoping to integrate fare payment with its micro- transit service and to facilitate seamless transfer between all modes within the system, but they must first implement a fare payment technology that will enable this. UTA designed their microtransit service so that passengers are able to use UTA passes and fare media, although this fare media is not currently validated on the vehicles. This was important to the transit agency because they wanted the microtransit service to be seen as another mode with UTAâs services, with the same fares and rules, and not as an entirely separate entity. This arrangement was unusual for the vendors that operate their service, but it has worked. Although it is pos- sible to pay the fare for the microtransit service using a credit card, UTA indicates that 80% of riders are using UTA fare media. â¢ IndyGo. IndyGo prepared for the implementation of its bus network redesign both by adopt- ing a new fare policy and moving forward with the modernization of its fare collection system that will include an account-based system with physical fare cards and mobile Quick Response (QR) codes that can be scanned to ride. Central to these changes are two new fare policies: free transfers within 2 hours and fare capping at the daily and weekly levels (IndyGo 2019, 9). As IndyGo prepared for the launch of its bus network redesign (subsequently postponed by The LA Metro bus network redesign team is framing the redesign as a three-step process, the second of which is focused on capital investments: (1) Reconnect: improve bus levels of serviceâwithin the current operating budgetâby redesigning routes and schedules to attract trips where there is the greatest market potential; (2) Transit First: invest in a large capital program to support the service plan developed in the âReconnectâ phase; and (3) Future Funding: once existing levels of service are performing better through a redesigned network and investments in priority, determine the amount and locations of additional service to meet demand.
56 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future the COVID-19 pandemic), it wanted to roll out a retail network to allow riders to easily acquire and/or refill their transit cards, which is viewed as being particularly important for the unbanked population and is a key recommendation of the Title VI analysis of the new fare policy. However, coordinating integration with multiple vendors has proven to be a challenge. For example, IndyGo learned that many retail stores will not accept new inventory of any kind starting in October due to holiday inventory practices, something that IndyGoâs transit planners had no background to know. In terms of new mobility, several transit agency interviewees mentioned that any future fare system would likely need to account for and allow for payments to ânew mobilityâ providers, should they become a complementary part of the transit network. Survey results evidence the fact that transit agencies have taken various approaches to structuring fares for DRT service. Among survey respondents to TCRP Synthesis 141, it was common for DRT/microtransit to be governed by the same policies as the transit agencyâs fixed route services. When this was the case, transfers to and from DRT service are treated the same as transfers between fixed routes. When fares were not structured the same as fixed route transit, transit agencies took different approaches to DRT fares, offering fares free of change, for $1, and at other amounts that deviated from fixed route fare structure (Volinski 2019, 24). Capital Elements to Support Redesigned Bus Service Beyond bus network redesign planning expenses, costs may also be incurred for capital improvements aimed at improving transit system functionality. In the survey of transit agencies from TCRP Synthesis 140, the majority of providers (66%) who implemented or are planning a bus network redesign answered âyesâ when asked if capital costs were associated with their redesign. They added that these capital costs were most commonly used to support vehicles, passenger facilities, and bus stop signage (Byala et al. 2019, 43). Several of the transit agencies interviewed leveraged the bus network redesign project to advocate for and implement capital improvements to improve bus speed and reliability, such as bus lanes or TSP. Some interviewees noted that the benefits that may be achieved through a systemwide redesign may be significant and relatively easy to illustrate trade-offs, giving them an advantage in that they make it easier for the community to accept what could be some significant modifications to the streetscape. As noted in the section on Financial Considerations, there are a variety of capital investments that may be necessary to support implementation of a bus network redesign. Bus Priority Some interviewees noted that bus network redesigns either helped support ongoing BRT projects or provided the initial makings of high-capacity transit by indicating which corridors would be best suited for such high-frequency/high-amenity services. Implementation of the new bus network in Baltimore in 2017 included 5.5 miles of new bus and right-turn lanes identified with red paint and TSP along priority corridors. LA Metroâs bus network redesign team is coordinating with two ongoing BRT projects and is aiming to use the NextGen service plan as the basis and use their funding measure to pay for the capital components. Houstonâs New Bus Network implemented in 2015 included updates to the network in response to two recently opened light rail alignments. Part of the regionâs transit referendum that passed in 2019 is intended to implement capital improvements to leverage the high-frequency service implemented as part of the transit agencyâs bus network redesign.
Components of Bus Network Redesign Planning 57 Additional or New Vehicle Types If a bus network redesign plans more service at peak timesâwhen all of the transit agencyâs non-spare fleet is already in useâadditional vehicles will be required. With many redesigns focused on cost-neutral operations, additional vehicles are not a common expense. Some bus network redesigns result in additional types of vehicles purchased, such as longer or articulated buses for high-capacity services or microtransit vehicles. â¢ Houston METRO. Houston added some operational costs to the network but did not need to add vehicles because the amount of service offered in the peak periods actually declined by 4% (service increased on the weekends). â¢ Capital Metro. Capital Metroâs Cap Remap program ended up requiring the transit agency to use the entire existing fleet, including keeping buses they were going to retire in the fleet. The transit agency projects a need to buy 10 to 15 buses in the future to cover the new schedule, which peaks when the University of Texas is in session. These additional vehicles were mainly needed to keep the desired level of service while accounting for the longer running times resulting from the impacts of congestion and roadway construction. Expanded or New Transfer Facilities Bus network redesigns can result in new locations where transfers between buses occur or identify needs for expanding existing facilities. The following are examples: â¢ MDOT MTA. While already a small, one-street transfer location before the bus network redesign, the West Baltimore MARC station in Baltimore became a much more desirable location to accommodate the new system redesign; the transit agency created a large, off- street transfer facility with bus bays, layover spaces, better passenger amenities, and operator restrooms. â¢ IndyGo. IndyGo is tying the future construction of mobility hubs to the bus network redesign to develop last-mile connections to existing and planned transit services, such as end of the BRT line transit facilities and amenities, that can accommodate riders transferring between rural transit service to urban transit service or âkiss and rides.â This is in addition to the con- struction of the three BRT lines, phased both before and after the redesign implementation. â¢ Capital Metro. As a result of the transit agencyâs revised service plans from the bus network redesign, the transit agency needed to conduct a major renovation to convert a bus stop into a transfer facility to address bus stacking issues. Bus Stop Signage and Curb Space Investments Most of the bus network redesigns studied in TCRP Synthesis 140 included some form of bus stop optimization and/or bus stop amenity program as part of the redesign, but even if that is not a part of the redesign, there are minimum changes that are still needed, such as updating bus stop signs to reflect the new routes and additions of signage and accessibility improve- ments on roadways that previously did not have bus service. Some of the improvements made as part of redesigns related to bus stop signage and curb space include the following: â¢ Capital Metro added about 30 new bus stops as part of its bus network redesign. â¢ COTA worked with stakeholders in the city of Columbus, real estate development com- munity, and the downtown special improvement district to determine the best alignments and stop locations for a downtown BRT. These efforts were also actively supported by their metro politan planning organization and Columbusâ bicycle advocacy community. One major private employer also invested in capital improvements around a new stop at their location as well. The results of these efforts led to successes in achieving desired roadway
58 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future improvements for bus operations, and challenges where desired improvements or projects have not been realized. â¢ JTAâs bus network redesign included a bus stop optimization that removed 30% of bus stops in an effort to speed up the service, accompanied by investments in updated signage (Jacksonville Transportation Authority n.d., 12). â¢ MDOT MTAâs bus network redesign in Baltimore similarly removed 20% of bus stops and the transit agency installed new signage at all 4,000+ remaining bus stops. Electric Vehicle Charging Facilities While most transit agencies currently do not have electric vehicles or have just a small fleet in a pilot program, in the future, bus network redesigns may need to account for both range and topography limitations of electric buses as well as en route charging facilities. COTA believes that when they conducted their bus network redesign planning in 2014 and 2015, planning for electric buses would have been premature; the transit agency is working to deploy a fully electric bus fleet in the 2020s.
59 Introduction Even if the resulting bus network will be better for riders, it is difficult to muster the political will to implement a comprehensive bus network redesign. Compared with other bus planning efforts, public and stakeholder engagement should be robust during a redesign, with more touchpoints throughout the process. Once the process is underway, the outreach and engage- ment elementsâthe external one, with various community stakeholders (including transit advocacy groups); and the internal one, engaging decisionmakers, bus operators, union leader- ship, and other internal stakeholdersâshould be continuous throughout the entire redesign process, from initial market assessment through implementation. The transit agencies interviewed and surveyed in this research pointed to several common challenges associated with gaining support for the large-scale service changes that come with a bus network redesign, such as addressing different goals among transit agency leadership, balancing service needs and desires for riders, and overcoming internal resistance to significant operational changes. However, the largest challenge that was consistently cited by transit agencies was that riders have shaped their lives around the existing system and were resistant to change. Internal Agency Collaboration Planning and Other Administrative Staff Bus network redesigns can upend long-standing practice and may generate opposition within a transit organization. Transit agencies have also reported disagreement between staff members over the plan for an updated system, and some staff members believed that the proposed redesign was unnecessary. In addition, a full redesign requires coordination from across a transit agencyâs many branches, which can prove difficult, particularly for large transit organizations (Byala et al. 2019, 34). Getting the staff onboard with a redesign takes both engagement within the organiza- tion and strong leadership and champions working through concerns to reach a place where the entire organization can work together. Within the transit agency, the extent to which depart- ments collaborate in transit service design and delivery can help or hinder the redesign process. At the transit agency level, the delegation of tasks related to bus network redesigns can create challenges if departments do not typically collaborate. Different transit agency departments often have different goals for services. For example, some departments may emphasize gaining operational efficiencies while others focus on improving mobility for riders. The former is easier for the transit agency to measure but matters less to riders. For some transit agencies, these and other goals may be integrated within one department, but for others, they are separate. This creates a situation not only of divergent goals within one transit agency but also of using different metrics to assess those goals. C H A P T E R 4 Support and Collaboration
60 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Internal agency collaboration on the bus network redesign among planning and other admin- istrative staff was strong in many transit agencies: â¢ Gwinnett County Transit Division attributes their success to internal persistence, with inter- nal champions consistently pushing the same agendas. â¢ Houston METROâs CEO appointed a core management team, including a project lead, two project managers, and a board liaison. It was noted that building this core structure and having them supported by the CEO was pivotal to getting the project approved by the board. The management staff then formed a working group made up of senior staff with specific roles within Houston METRO, such as financing, public affairs, planning, press, and operations. â¢ At MDOT MTA, the engaged and enthusiastic Administrator of the MDOT MTA took the lead in instituting transit agencywide retreats, called âadvances,â where the directors of the long-range planning/capital planning and service planning departments led representatives from all parts of the transit agency in collaborating on all aspects of the bus network redesign, from final service planning, to fares, to capital improvements being implemented concurrent with the service changes. Union Leadership Survey responses from TCRP 140 indicated that union engagement and support was crucial for plan implementation (Byala et al. 2019, 55); engagement with union leadership and with union members are two separate audiences and both must be engaged and integrated throughout the process. In general, there was a sense among interviewees that it is beneficial to the transit agencies for bus operators and the organized labor groups that represent them to be brought into the bus network redesign process early. At Capital Metro in Austin, Texas, the operators are unionized through their private opera- tors. The Capital Metro bus network redesign team engaged with the union leadership through a senior-level transit agency staff member going to the union hall, initially just to listen to their concerns and later to relay how the concerns would be addressed. The union then participated in finalizing the plans to address operator concerns and therefore was in support of the redesign. Ultimately, the union and many operators are happy with the network implemented, and the process built trust between the short-range planning department and the union. Another transit agency that uses an operating contractor struggled to actively engage union leadership, in large part because the transit agency is required to go to the union through their contractor, making direct collaboration challenging. Additionally, the contractor had gone through eight general managers in 4 years, making it difficult to maintain relationships. Nevertheless, the transit agencyâs consultant team did interview union leadership as part of their work. Bus Operators Most transit agencies implement some level of operator in-reach as part of their bus network redesign planning process to inform and engage, gather input, and foster buy-in from the bus operators. Bus operators are the transit agencyâs frontline staff who have extensive knowledge and experience from their time driving the routes and interacting with passengers. Several transit agencies interviewed noted that, ultimately, bus operators will be the ambassadors to the public and will need to be provided with the information needed so that they can make the transition easier for the customers. Figure 12 provides an example of an approach for reaching out to bus operators during a redesign. Almost all the interviewees stated that bus operators were involved in the bus network redesign, either formally or informally. For one transit agency, operators were involved in redesign planning as a constituent group rather than a formal planning group. The transit agencyâs operations team, which led the redesign process, was in contact with supervisors and
Support and Collaboration 61 drivers to coordinate on scheduling. In another, the consultants leading the redesign met with operators and went to operator safety meetings through a detailed in-reach âsyllabusâ that engaged the operators in all divisions at all stages of the process. In addition to the input that the planning team gained from the regular discussions at the bus divisions, each division super- intendent nominated one of their most senior and informed operators to be part of the core service planning team. These operators provided invaluable insights for the planning team as they were developing and finalizing the service plan. One transit agency engaged with a hand-picked subgroup of senior operators during the planning process. This group was not engaged after the plan was drafted, something the transit agency would have done if they could do it over again. In part, the operatorsâat the unionâs suggestionâprotested using TNCs in the county, one of the recommendations of the bus net- work redesign for the more rural parts of the service area. Once the operators realized that the plan called for an 800% increase in service, they supported it; however, the TNC recommenda- tions were dropped. Another transit agency that involved its operators addressed their concerns about running times and recovery times in part by engaging the operators in running simulations of the routes to provide assurance that the time to complete the routes would be sufficient. They also did a lot of in-reach with the operators in the bus garages through small meetings, and then during implementation, working with the operators regarding the routes they would drive. Community Buy-In Introduction About two-thirds of transit agencies with bus network redesigns underway or complete reported their redesign effort was championed by transit agency staff, local politicians, or board members. In most cases, the champion behind the redesign was a transit agency head or CEO 1 â¢ Develop accessible, fact-based content that focuses on the bus operator experience/interaction with topic(s) at hand. Ensure that all relevant transit agency departments have reviewed the accuracy of the information being provided. 2 â¢ Present in-reach content to division leadership to gather their feedback and adjust the informational materials accordingly. 3 â¢ Hold in-reach events at each division where operators are given a brief (20- to 30-minute) presentation and can view static information handouts and/or informational boards, speak to content experts during the event, and provide feedback by speaking with in-reach staff during the event or by filling in a comment card. Informational materials remain at the divisions after the event to allow as many operators as possible to engage with the information. 4 â¢ Report back to leadership the themes of what was heard during workshop events and provide official transit agency responses to frequently asked questions when possible. Figure 12. Example operator in-reach event approach.
62 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future (Byala et al. 2019, 36). The goals of many redesigns center on helping the customers and the community, such as improving transit service for current and potential riders and better match- ing the bus network with current and potential future ridership demand. However, the process to get to the new system is long and difficult, and gaining buy-in from community leaders and community groups can make the difference in a successful plan. Dealing with Public Pushback Any change to bus service can cause concern in the community, but bus network redesigns bring the potential for widespread pushback. While making systemwide changes has the benefit of everyone being affectedâand therefore does not single out one community over anotherâ often the mere idea of change is challenging. Some common areas of public concern regarding redesigns are as follows: â¢ Too much change. Capital Metro felt that a âbarrierâ to the implementation of the Cap Remap service plan was convincing the general public that the plan was âthe real thingâ and not solely a conceptual study; people started speaking out in great numbers only when changes were being implemented. The changes being done all at once caught the publicâs attention more than a typical service change would have. â¢ Too much public spending. One transit agency conducting a bus network redesign faced opposition from community members who were vocal about their belief that investment in increased transit was either unnecessary with the introduction of TNCs or was fundamentally at odds with their personal belief in limited government. â¢ Changes to parking location or availability. Another transit agency faced opposition from property owners located along a planned BRT line, who protested changes in street parking. When parking changes were made to accommodate their concerns, these property owners found new reasons to oppose the BRT. However, the transit agency was able to overcome this opposition through a public survey that found over 70% of residents were in favor of the planned BRT and service improvements. This survey data provided public officials with a clear understanding of community sentiment, as opposed to relying solely on stakeholders who frequently voiced their opposition. â¢ Reduction in fixed route and/or paratransit services. Clinton Countyâs bus network redesign involved service reductions, including eliminating paratransit service and modifying fixed routes to be deviation routes. These changes resulted in the public being upset. Nevertheless, due to funding limitations the transit operator had as of spring 2020, there are no plans to revert to more paratransit operations. Across transit agencies, initial public pushback on new mobility services was a recurring theme, but there was often a sense that once the new services were in place, the public viewed these changes positively. Echoing this, one private company interviewee stated that the riding public is more likely to invest in changing their behavior to ride a new or updated service if they trust that the service will last. According to this interviewee, pilots are crucial to testing a new idea with the public, but it is important to evaluate ridership trends over an appropriate time- frame. People do not change their habits quickly, and commuters are more likely to stick with a service if they know it will be around in the long term. This is especially challenging with respect to pilots of paratransit services for the disability community and may also have implications for services that are venture capital funded like ridehailing and micromobility (e.g., dockless bikes and scooters) services. Creating Broad Coalitions Projects that had support from a broad range of community stakeholdersâsuch as faith- based groups, transit advocates, and development and real estate groupsâwere more likely to
Support and Collaboration 63 succeed, according to interviewees. A broad coalition of stakeholders signals that a project has obtained widespread interest and support. It can also signal to political leaders that there is community engagement. â¢ Houston METRO employed a stakeholder task force consisting of more than 120 people that represented a variety of groups including social service providers, schools and colleges, developers, and community advocates (as well as bus riders, Houston METRO operators, and government agencies). This group was selected to provide a representation of the transit interests in the community and a collective opinion that would be meaningful to the Houston METRO Board. Their input provided crucial feedback at each step of the planâs development and ultimately generated a de-facto coalition of support. â¢ IndyGo benefited from having a variety of community groups involved with improving transit service in Indianapolis going back to the early 2000s. The impetus for Indianapolisâ investment in transit began with a 2009 assessment that identified transportation as one of the factors inhibiting economic growth in the city of Indianapolis and the region. At that time, IndyGo had an aging bus fleet and declining ridership. A corporate task force was formed to explore transit system improvements, which (as described in the section on Federal and State Engagement and Support) helped coordinate state enabling legislation for a local option income tax (a tax levied by the local jurisdiction with state approval) to support transit, which ultimately led to the city putting the bus network redesign on a ballot as a non- binding referendum. Community partners including the local AARP, IndyCan (a coalition of faith-based organizations), and transit advocates also offered crucial support leading up to and throughout the redesign process, including significant investments in advertising and outreach to engender support on the referendum. â¢ Washington, DC, region. The business community should also not be overlooked as a way to generate interest and support around a bus network redesign. In the Washington, DC, region, the Bus Transformation Projectâa precursor to a redesignâincluded leadership by an executive steering committee comprising broad interests, including a strong presence from the business community. The business leadersâ support of improving the bus network as a way to sustainably support and grow the region economically was crucial to the endorsement of the strategy by most local jurisdictions. Ballot Initiatives and Expanded Funding State, regional, and local ballot initiatives can also shape transit service governance and funding. The following are examples: â¢ COTA also expanded service as part of its bus network redesign as a result of a levy passed in 2006 in the form of a temporary sales tax to fund service expansion. Although the levy barely passed in 2006, when it was renewed in 2016, it passed with more than 70% of the vote in advance of the 2017 redesign implementation. â¢ In Gwinnett County, the original enabling legislation for nearby Atlantaâs Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) required that each county hold two votes to be served by MARTA: one to join, and the second to fund. While Gwinnett County voted to join in the 1960s, it did not vote to fund MARTA, and since then has operated all transit service in the county. In 2019, the County Board of Commissioners called for a referendum to enter negotiations for services with MARTA and to provide the capital and operating expenses for MARTA to build and operate the recommendations of âConnect Gwinnett,â Gwinnett Countyâs long-term Transit Development Plan. However, the referendum failed in a March 2019 special election in part because voters did not understand how expanded transit services would benefit them. As of spring 2020, Gwinnett is moving forward with pursuing another referendum, this time leveraging permission provided to the county
64 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future through Georgia House Bill 930, which gave Gwinnett an additional option to raise funds for Connect Gwinnett through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. If passed, this tax would generate capital and operating funds for Gwinnett County to directly build and operate the recommendations of the plan, other than operating the rail extension, which would be done by MARTA. â¢ At Houston METRO, after implementation of the bus network redesign in 2015, voters approved a referendum in November 2019 allowing Houston METRO to borrow $3.5 billion based on future transit agency revenue. The vote, with 68% support, is intended to fund numerous capital investments, including adding premium bus features to 14 high-frequency routes implemented as part of the redesign. â¢ HRT, which serves six cities in the Hampton Roads region of Virginiaâincluding Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport Newsâcompleted the Transform Transit Project and sub- sequent Transit Strategic Plan that looked at the service area regionally, resulting in recom- mendations for redesigning the transit network from a regional rather than city perspective. This study was the final impetusâafter many years of trying for dedicated funding from the stateâfor the transit agency to be allocated, through the state legislature, a fixed source of funding for operational and capital improvements for a regional backbone network of high-frequency, priority services. This funding source will free up local funds to implement expanded, redesigned local service to feed the regional backbone network and the regionâs one light rail line. Inter-Agency Collaboration Transit agencies are organized in many ways, some are independent agencies or authorities, while others are components of state or local government. Most transit agencies surveyed as part of TCRP Synthesis 140 reported having either a department of transportation or public works department that was involved in stakeholder-level review and feedback. Coordination with Cities and Jurisdictions More small and medium transit agencies (40% and 45%, respectively) reported having strong collaboration with their cities, compared with large transit agencies (17%) (Byala et al. 2019, 40). Collaboration with the cities and jurisdictions in which they operate is a key bus network redesign challenge. Besides working with the municipalities and jurisdictions in the service area on the service plans, collaboration is needed to access assets controlled by local jurisdictions (such as street and curb space) to implement priority for transit vehicles (Byala et al. 2019, 55). â¢ COTA. The transit agencyâs BRT, CMAX, which was planned as part of the bus network redesign but implemented separately later on, added bus lanes during rush hour on one cor- ridor. While removal of parking to accommodate bus lanes was not possible in all corridors COTA desired, the transit agency successfully worked with the city to modify the curb space to accommodate pull-in/pull-out space for buses at key locations. The corridor on which the CMAX BRT runs was already a bus lane prior to the transit system redesign; however, police enforcement (including extra police hired by COTA) of bus lane violations increased following the implementation of the redesign. There was an effort that did not come to fruition to convert a one-way street to a two-way street, which would include capital invest- ment from the city of Columbus to enhance traffic signals and modify the roadway. After the transit system redesign implementation, COTA and Columbus piloted a combination bus/bicycle lane on what was widely viewed as a success.
Support and Collaboration 65 â¢ MDOT MTA. When the BaltimoreLink bus network redesign was implemented in 2017, the transit agency worked with the city on simultaneously implementing bus stop optimization, bus-priority lanes, and TSP. While the city was not very involved in planning the service for the redesign, the transit agency collaborated with the city on bus stop removals and new stops (the transit agency did the work but required city approval); on putting in bus and right-turn lanes on two major corridors (again, the transit agency hired the contractors to do the work, with city approval); and on implementation of TSP on several high-priority corridors, which required involvement from city and state traffic engineers. As transit agencies plan their service in the bus network redesign, they rely on significant amounts of data to ascertain travel flows in the region. The city or jurisdiction in which the transit agency operates can play a role in obtaining more robust data about demand between locations by requiring that data from private providersâsuch as TNCs and scooter shareâbe shared with the transit agency for their planning purposes. Coordination with Neighboring Transit Agencies The transit agency interviewees for this report described a limited level of coordination with neighboring transit agencies. While schedules may be coordinated with other transit agencies at common transfer locations, few interviewees described extensive levels of integration with the operations of another transit agency, such as interlining or sharing common route alignments between operators. This allows for any potential bus network redesign effort to focus solely on their own transit agencyâs operations; however, when other operators are part of the same metro politan area travel shed, then opportunities for truly meeting the travel needs of the region can be lost as a result of the artificial boundaries of a transit agencyâs service area. Generally, some level of coordination was most common in examples where other transit agencies may also operate within the same service area as follows: â¢ In the San Francisco Bay Area, AC Transit initially planned to reorient its service to feed the BART rail system but had to change course when BART could not accommodate additional passengers. â¢ In the Los Angeles region, LA Metro is conducting its bus network redesign just for the bus service provided by the transit agency itself; however, 17 major municipal operators provide about one-third of the bus service in the service area, with little overlap. During the planning process, LA Metro has worked closely with all the municipal operators on a variety of plan- ning issues, such as to confirm or identify new transfer locations, coordinate services, and reduce duplication of service. Federal and State Engagement and Support Transit agencies often have to navigate state government as they develop a bus network redesign. IndyGo had strong support from a local corporate task force supporting their bus network redesign, and that group took the lead on engaging with state legislators to advocate for state enabling legislation allowing for an income tax to support the redesign. Other transit agencies, like MDOT MTA, are state agencies themselves and had to seek approval for all elements of their bus network redesign from the state DOT. At the federal level, transit agencies have been able to obtain grants for key elements of their bus network redesigns. IndyGo was also the recipient of an FTA Small Starts Grantâ which FTA funded at the highest levelâfor the construction of the Red Line BRT, the spine of the entire bus network and a crucial piece of IndyGoâs redesign. Nearly a year before
66 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future the BaltimoreLink redesign was implemented, MDOT MTA received a U.S. DOT Trans- portation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to fund infrastructure improvementsâincluding bus lanes and improved transit stopsâon a corridor designated as one of the transit agencyâs high-frequency services during the redesign (MDOT MTA 2018b). Additionally, through programs like the Integrated Mobility Innovation Demonstration Program or the MOD Program, the federal government provides funding for transit agencies to test new mobility approaches that may promote service effectiveness and provide options beyond fixed route bus service. Such programs can allow transit agencies to explore different technologies for service delivery, such as the use of ridehailing services or micromobility pro- viders (e.g., bikeshare, scooter share) to deliver first-mile/last-mile services, which could have implications for bus network redesigns. According to one private sector interviewee, the federal government should continue to expand such programs to enable new technologies to succeed. Additionally, the data from the results of micromobility pilots will inform service planners and transit agency leaders as to the actual usefulness of such services, including how they can augment bus networks. Boards and Elected Officials Bus network redesigns are heavily influenced by governmental and transit agency decision- making processes. Federal, state, county, and city governments affect factors like funding avail- ability for research and development initiatives that are part of early stages of redesigns, funding for the planning process, and funding for implementation of redesignsâboth on the operating and capital side. Transit agencies typically have a governing body or a higher-level transportation department that can weigh in on the decisionmaking process. The exact role that these bodies take in the planning process varies from determining budgets and engaging the public, to giving the final approval on a project before implementation. It is therefore important for transit agencies to engage their governing bodies throughout the bus network redesign process to ensure that all are onboard with the changes. A powerful board with strong opinions can be designâs determining factor in terms of how much gets done, how long it takes, and what the final outcome will be (Byala et al. 2019, 43-44). Diversity in board or advisory committee representation was also listed as an important ele- ment to achieving buy-in. Whereas some transit agencies pointed to pushback from boards that were resistant to change, others indicated that having a board or advisory committee that repre- sented a variety of interests and perspectives allowed for a richer discussion. IndyGo pointed to buy-in from political leaders, including an enthusiastic mayor, helping to make a bus network redesign successful because engagement from the mayor made it easier to build support within other city departments, and that this can last through changes in administration. A previous mayor was a leader for transit and supported a successful transit-funding referendum. The support evidenced by the referendum, as well as extensive community support, was a key factor in the transit initiatives continuing into the next mayoral administration. Interviewees noted that engagement is not a one-time event; they said the board and other transit leaders who are resisting change must be brought along during the entire process, and their concerns should be addressed. Survey results indicated that boards have been involved in many different aspects of bus network redesigns. Transit agency interviewees for this report and surveyed as part of TCRP Synthesis 140 indicated that transit agency boards of directors are often the largest barriers to implementing bus network redesigns. Among the survey respondents with complete or
Support and Collaboration 67 underway bus network redesign efforts, boards were most often involved in final approval for route recommendations (71%), policy guidance for the bus network redesign visions (74%), and final approval for operating budgets (71%) (Byala et al. 2019, 39). Many transit agencies that had already implemented bus network redesigns also indicated their boards had conducted polit- ical advocacy (65%) and public outreach (53%) on behalf of the project (Byala et al. 2019, 39). While board representation can provide crucial guidance on service changes, board members often have different, conflicting goals. Many board members are also reactive to their constitu- ents and resist change when their represented riders complain. This can result in delayed service change implementation or even a complete shift from what was otherwise planned for imple- mentation. Board members must be âbrought alongâ in the process and convinced by transit agency staff that the resulting bus network redesign will be a positive outcome; additionally, board changeovers can interrupt the bus network redesign process. One example of success in gaining the boardâs approval to do a bus network redesign was demonstrated in Houston, Texas, with the New Bus Network project. Well before the board was to vote on the project, the CEO of Houston METRO appointed a core management team, including a project lead, two project managers, and a board liaison. It was noted that establish- ing this core management team and having them supported by the CEO were pivotal to getting the project approved by the board. The management staff then formed a working group made up of senior staff with specific roles within Houston METRO, such as financing, public affairs, planning, press, and operations. This complex structure helped incorporate the expertise of all the relevant parties within the transit agency while still maintaining the hierarchy necessary to run a successful project. Ultimately, this structure helped get the project approved by the board and helped to get it implemented successfully (Houston METRO n.d., 1-3). Buy-in from top elected officials and other local leaders was another critical element for achieving public support. As one transit agency interviewee stated, âthe local leaders [now] understand that widening roadways is no longer enough to address transportation challenges.â In much of the country, this kind of thinking is not standard among top officials, much less the general public. When leaders champion bold new ideas, support from the general public is much easier to achieve. One city had a successful referendum on funding increased transit service. The detailed maps of constituents who voted for increased taxes helped bring along elected officials. The Indianapolis area passed a non-binding ballot initiative to increase funding for IndyGoâs bus network redesign, which demonstrated public support for transit that helped enhance support from elected officials.
68 Introduction How a transit agency chooses to implement its bus network redesign can be as important to its success as all the other components of its preparation. A proper launch ensures that the changes to the system are understood by the public, which therefore ensures that they system will continue to attract and retain riders. Phasing Transit agencies face a choice between implementing bus network redesigns all at once or through a phased implementation. The all-at-once approach typically occurs in the course of one day, where on a set date, all the route changes are implemented at once. The phased approach usually involves changing pieces of the system over time and may take months or years to fully implement. One challenge to an all-at-once implementation cited by several transit agency interviewees was their shortage of bus operators: â¢ Capital Metro. Not having the drivers necessary to roll out the bus network redesign is the primary reason the Red Line BRT service preceded the implementation of the service and routing changes that will eventually be made to the local bus network. The contractor work- ing with Capital Metro was able to get enough drivers; however, despite ongoing recruitment, operator hiring is a struggle. Bus operator shortages are a nationwide problem that has gotten worse over time and adds another level of complexity to an already complex bus network redesign process (Short 2017). â¢ IndyGo. Part of the impetus for the phased implementation by IndyGo was, and is, the inabil- ity to hire enough drivers for both the new BRT system and the full system redesign at the same time. The implementation timeline followed by transit agencies surveyed for TCRP Synthesis 140 varied from âless than 2 yearsâ to â10 years or moreâ (Byala et al. 2019, 49). Transit agencies that took a phased approach to implementation did so in various ways, as shown in Figure 13. Those that implemented or planned to implement in phases were split between deploying phases by âgeographic service areaâ and âservice typeâ (Byala et al. 2019, 75). Byala et al. found that one reason transit agencies may undertake a phased approach versus transitioning the whole system at once is due to capital and operating constraints. â¢ DART incrementally implemented its bus network redesign in response to future increases in operating funds (Byala et al. 2019, 76-77). C H A P T E R 5 Bus Network Redesign Implementation
Bus Network Redesign Implementation 69 â¢ LA Metroâs plans for implementation are to fix the core network and make changes that will benefit the most people using current resources. Future phases will include a capital program to support the service plan and internal operations as well as additional service if more funding can be secured. â¢ The King County Metro Transit Department in the Seattle, Washington, area phased its bus network redesign to coordinate with major capital investments (Byala et al. 2019, 76-77). â¢ IndyGo is an example of a transit agency making incremental improvements as they phase in their bus network redesign. The transit agency chose to start making small changes to schedule frequencies. Its first BRT line, the Red Line, opened in September 2019. The imple- mentation of the new, grid-based network planned for June 2020 has been postponed due to several factors related to the COVID-19 outbreak. IndyGo is continuing to assess staffing, equipment, and ridership levels to determine the most effective time to move forward with the route changes. Conversely, other research highlights the benefits of a rapid implementation of network changes. â¢ JTA found that implementing the bus network redesign at once was important for success and that an incremental phasing strategy may result in delays and additional rider confusion (Jacksonville Transportation Authority n.d., 7). â¢ For Capital Metro in Austin, the redesigned network was implemented all at once, with approval in November and implementation the following June; the process was led by the Operations Planning department, but the project manager for Cap Remap came from the Capital Planning department. The overall project manager was selected on the basis of experience with managing complex and large projects, as opposed to technical specialty within the transit agency. Capital Metro spent 6 months focused on preparing for imple- mentation. In retrospect, Capital Metro staff expressed the view that a full year to prepare for implementation would have been beneficial given the breadth of activity needed to imple- ment all aspects of plan, from hiring drivers (which was already a challenge), to signage, to public information. Whether the implementation is immediate or gradual, transit agencies should expect an adjustment period as both the riders and the operators learn the new system. Source: TCRP Synthesis 140: Bus Network Redesigns, 134. All at once 31% Almost all at once, with minor stages 25% In phases 36% I don't know yet 8% Figure 13. How did you implement/are you planning on implementing the redesigned system?
70 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Specifically related to the implementation of microtransit of DRT, several transit agencies interviewed noted the usefulness of conducting pilots before permanently implementing DRT programs. One transit agency specified that discontinuing fixed route bus service is often ripe with internal and external politics and, to this end, suggested it is wise to establish pilot DRT projects in areas where no transit service exists. The respondent explained that pending the success of pilots, a case for eliminating existing fixed route service in favor of DRT can more easily be made. In contrast, another transit agency reported having had success in launching DRT service in an area that previously had fixed route service. The new DRT service offering launched by this transit agency benefited from the existing customer base, and the transit agency viewed DRT as a âcondolence offering,â noting that eliminating service altogether would have faced greater opposition (Volinski 2019, 39). Elements This section provides an overview of the component key parts of implementing bus net- work redesigns. Some of these elementsâsuch as public engagement, education, and mobility partner ships were introduced in Chapters 3 and 4âand some, such as capital elements and detailed implementation activities, are covered in more detail in Toolkit #1: Bus Network Redesign and Toolkit #2: Leveraging Partnerships for a Better Bus System. Governance and Institutional Change Bus network redesigns may involve an internal reshuffling or restructuring of the transit organization to account for the new services being offered and older services being discontinued. This can involve consolidating leadership, adding staff, and creating a new transit agency division or department. â¢ Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA). Located in Charleston, South Carolina, CARTA consolidated its management to simplify the implementation pro- cess before beginning their bus network redesign (Byala et al. 2019, 43-44). â¢ IndyGo. To support the bus network redesign initiatives, IndyGo hired new staff and created its Planning and Capital Projects Division (Byala et al. 2019, 43-44). â¢ Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). In advance of embarking on the planning and implementation of its bus network redesign, SEPTA created a new senior management position that reports to the General Manager to oversee planning at the transit agency, giving oversight of long-range and service planning to one person and elevating the importance of planning and in fact bus within the organization (Madej 2020). â¢ UTA. Before planning for their Service Choices bus network redesign, the UTA 2018 Strategic Plan examined peer transit agency structure as it relates to transit agency functions, with a particular focus on aiding future service expansion and the integration of new mobility modes. As a result, UTA established an Innovative Mobility Solutions department to develop pilots and research industry innovations for implementation at the transit agency. Although the Service Choices project is being led by UTAâs Service Planning department, the Innovative Mobility Solutions department is an active participant in the planning process. Implementation Engagement and Education One challenge of implementing a bus network redesign, whether it is in phases or all at once, is ensuring the transit riders are aware of the changes to the system and have resources to help them navigate the system while they become familiar with it.
Bus Network Redesign Implementation 71 â¢ Capital Metro implemented a robust outreach and education process prior to implementa- tion. The transit agency had a new GTFS feed ready about a month before launch, and that allowed riders to compare their trips pre- and post-bus network redesign. The availability of this information helped significantly with outreach, especially for riders who had complex trips. One issue that appeared for Capital Metro after implementation is that some people who were not as tech savvy, had limited English proficiency, or other issues with the ability to access information (e.g., low literacy or barriers to access to technology) had not made use of the GTFS feed to plan their new trips and were trying to replicate their old routing with the new routes. These people were making three seat rides when they only needed two; about 2 weeks of post-implementation education, including bilingual staff, was key to ensuring that people knew how to best use the new bus network. â¢ COTA hired temporary workers, many of whom were transit users, as brand ambassadors to conduct direct outreach in the community. Every stop got a temporary sign explaining what would happen at that stop, and the customer service center was overstaffed before and after implementation. â¢ JTA created a group of retired operations team members who possessed the institutional knowledge to train others and make sure the trainers on the new system included a mix of seniors, youth, minorities, and people with disabilities. â¢ In Gwinnett County, the whole transit workforce received the same training making them all knowledgeable about the system and connectivity. If the operators were only trained on part of the network, they would have missed an opportunity for operators to act as ambassadors. As the frontline employees that most riders interact with, it was important that the opera- tors could act âambassadorial,â especially in the Atlanta region where there are multiple bus operators. â¢ IndyGo has an âall hands on deckâ approach to public education, which is primarily led by a department other than service planning. This approach includes a robust engagement plan with on-site transit ambassadors to engage the public. Prior to the implementation of the Red Line BRT, IndyGo also conducted direct outreach to automobile drivers. The Red Line is the first rapid transit in the Indianapolis region. It was expected that many automobile drivers would not be familiar with the regulations surrounding the dedicated right-of-way (ROW) that comes with a BRT system. â¢ MDOT MTA conducted an extensive public education campaign ahead of the changeover to the BaltimoreLink system. Pop-up events with street teams, new bus stop signage, pub- lic notices, onboard announcements, and a new website with trip planning tool were all deployed to get the word out about the change. The education program also included send- ing a âBaltimoreLink Info Busâ to provide trips on all current routes, where passengers could talk with route experts to learn how the new system would affect their trip. MTA also partnered with the Center for Mobility Equity, a regional non-profit, to provide compre- hensive training for senior riders, people with disabilities, and students. â¢ For UTAâwhich, as of spring 2020, was still finalizing its bus network redesign plan and planning for implementationâeducation began early on. The transit agencyâs Marketing/ Public Relations department has been involved in project-related outreach and is already working with the planners on areas that they think will be âhotspotsâ of passenger question or concerns. Implementation of Mobility Partnerships with Transit Agencies Many of the more recent bus network redesigns incorporate planning for new mobility services as part of their service planning, identifying areas that may not have fixed route service as part of the redesign but could be served by microtransit, partnerships with TNCs, or where mobility hubs may provide access to the transit system.
72 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future Experimentation and clearly defined goals can help transit agencies successfully integrate new mobility services into existing fixed route transit services. A 2016 TransitCenter report empha- sizes multimodal rather than mode-specific mobility, a rebalancing of street infrastructure to prioritize efficient movement, fare integration, data exploration, and use of on-demand services as elements that transit agencies should consider as they explore partnerships with new mobility providers (Tsay et al. 2016, 79). UTA established its Innovative Mobility Solutions department as a testbed to explore poten- tial implementations of new transit service models and technologies that may be deployed more widely throughout the system. LA Metroâs Office of Extraordinary Innovation was created to aid the transit agency in developing new types of partnerships and deploying new technologies that show promise for future systemwide implementation (LA Metro n.d.). Most transit agencies included in this report have approached the implementation of new mobility partnerships as pilots, with the aim of evaluating specific-use cases and performance in meeting transit agency goals, as opposed to committing to full-scale implementation of a new service model within a broader bus network redesign process. However, many transit agencies also acknowledged the limitations of pilot programs, in that customers are not necessarily will- ing to invest in learning about a new option when it might only be available temporarily. This can result in lower ridership and a perceived lack of success of the pilot. Finalizing Capital Elements and Other Detailed Implementation Activities During bus network redesign planning, transit agencies identify capital elements that will be needed to support redesigned service. These items range from additional vehicles to expanded or new transfer facilities to bus stop signage to new layover facilities. These improvements will have been coordinated with route planning earlier in the process, but at the time of implementation, there will be many final details to address including the following: â¢ Video new routes for training. Transit agencies, such as MDOT MTAâs and Capital Metroâs contracted operator, conducted a final drive of each new route to video the route for operator training and check for any final safety concerns. â¢ Conduct final safety checks. MDOT MTAâs safety checked for any needed âdaylightingâ design improvements as buses approach intersections. â¢ Finalize improvements for bus-priority lanes. Any TSP that the transit agency and munici- pality were working on to complement high-frequency corridors needs to undergo final testing, and striping and painting for other bus-priority treatments must also be finalized. In addition, there are many other details that must be addressed before a bus network rede- sign can launch. At COTA, the transit agency hired a project manager specifically to manage all the details of the implementation. All new, relocated, and removed bus stops must be tagged in some way that shows current service information as well as the plans for upcoming changes (see Figure 14). This approach was followed in many cities that have implemented bus net- work redesigns. Once the final system plan is developed, transit agencies must schedule all the service in their scheduling software or whatever process they typically use for scheduling. If the planning work was done in a detailed mannerâsuch as including accurate runtimes and layover timeâthe scheduling should result in a system that the transit agency can operate. When the planning did not consider all aspects, transit agencies found that, upon scheduling the service, more resources would be needed to operate the plan than initially thought. Other items include driver training, which at several transit agencies included driving each route with a camera and posting the videos to a video site for operator training. Various
Bus Network Redesign Implementation 73 Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) elements must also be addressed, including ITS data preparation for GTFS and for updating the onboard ITS systemsânamely APCs and AVLâto include updated bus stop sequences and routing. Finally, print materials, such as bus schedules, route maps, and system maps, must be designed, printed, and distributed prior to implementation. Follow-Up Post Implementation Once the new system has been launched, transit agencies can monitor and continue to make improvements to the system. Using performance metrics developed earlier in the processâ such as ridership, schedule adherence, and crowdingâtransit agencies can set up more formal performance monitoring programs to ensure that all the effort that went into planning and implementing the bus network redesign is followed up on. Despite the best planning efforts, bus transit is dynamic, and ongoing performance monitoring using easily collected data is key to keeping the service at peak performance. â¢ COTA. One year after implementation of its bus network redesign, COTA had seen a rider- ship increase of between 1.6% and 3.6% based on comparing individual months before and after the redesign at a time when transit ridership nationwide had been declining. It also monitored weekend ridership where the redesign had added a lot of service and saw increases as large as 24% on Sunday (Schmitt 2018). â¢ Capital Metro had seen at least 17 months of ridership gains following implementa- tion, largely, they believe, by the implementation of âshow-up-and-goâ services that come Old bus stop signs removed Temporary signage with current routes and notation that changes were coming in Summer 2017 Temporary signage removed to reveal new routes implemented by the redesign Source: MDOT MTA. Figure 14. BaltimoreLink bus stop signage replacement process.
74 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future frequently enough that passengers do not require a schedule. They have a board-adopted goal for passengers per hour. â¢ LA Metro, which as of spring 2020 was still finalizing their bus network redesign plans, set forth a plan for measuring success when it approved the Regional Service Concept, or frame- work for restructuring the system. The transit agency adopted measures of success around three stages: Find, Try, and Rely, which consist of customer-focused measures as well as tradi- tional metrics of productivity and efficiency. These metrics include legibility, competitiveness, and customer satisfaction; some of these can be applied to the planned system and some once the new system is operational (LA Metro 2019a). â¢ MDOT MTA has adopted a robust post-implementation monitoring process that includes creating an efficiency rating for each metric for each day type: cost per passenger, passengers per hour, passengers per trip. It also includes reliability, customer service, and safety ratings. This evaluation, which has been automated using data from MTAâs onboard systems, is con- ducted monthly, and trends are tracked to identify routes that require more in-depth analysis. An example of this is shown in Figure 15. Source: MDOT MTA. Figure 15. MDOT MTA post-implementation monitoring process.
75 The research described in this report summarized bus network redesigns, including their planning and implementation as well as how transit agencies have incorporated new mobility into their planning processes. There were several key findings that represent common themes, challenges, and considerations observed across this research. This is also an evolving topic; there are still numerous bus network redesigns being planned and considered across the country, and the impacts of those implemented are still not clear. With the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the country since early 2020 and its associated precipitous drops in transit ridership and the unknown long-term impact on travel, future bus network redesigns may be even more relevant to determine what types of transit services to provide. Finally, this research identified several gaps where additional research is required. Key Findings Based on the interviews, survey review, and literature and information review, the following are the key findings about bus network redesigns, new mobility, and the connection between the two. 1. Transit agencies see bus network redesigns as a way to implement better bus service, address recent changes in their service or their region, and pass through a variety of improvements under one umbrella. â Even in regions with extensive rail (or other types of fixed guideway) networks, buses carry a significant percentage of transit trips, and changing the bus network has major impacts. â Bus network redesigns are seen as a way to bring wholesale change to the transit agencyâs offerings. Although labor and resource intensive, making many changes at once stream- lines work that would have been done over several projects and also makes changes more palatable to the public. While people may not be happy with all the changes, they can at least feel like the changes are not just impacting them, but rather are for the benefit of the entire region. This also makes it easier for the transit agency when it comes time for public hearings before implementation. â Transit agencies are tying together a variety of improvements under the umbrella of a bus network redesign. These include implementing high-frequency corridors with bus- priority treatments, bus stop optimization, new and expanded transit centers, and even new branding, and online and print materials. Most of these improvements are directly tied to supporting the service plan developed for the bus network redesign, but other peripherally related items are sometimes included. 2. Bus network redesigns should be framed by strong decisionmaking processes and leader- ship guidance. â Most successfully planned bus network redesigns have strong support and leadership from someone in a senior position, such as the transit agency CEO or an influential C H A P T E R 6 Conclusions and Next Steps
76 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future board member. This high-level backing and guidance are key to buy-in across internal departments, cooperation with stakeholders and the local jurisdictions, and a face of support and leadership (i.e., a âchampionâ of the bus network redesign) for the public. 3. Transit agencies should establish parameters and goals early on for bus network rede- signs to set expectations for stakeholders, the board, and the public. â Goals for a bus network redesign can vary even across an organization, with some depart- ments focused on maximizing operational efficiency, some on maximizing accessibility, and some on revenue generation. It is important to have articulated and coordinated goals so that everyone is working toward the same outcome for the bus network redesign. â Parameters for changes to the system should be developed and applied at all phases of the decisionmaking process so that the process has a strong reference point and keeps the plan on track to meet its targets and objectives. These targets and parameters can be related to, for example, planning for a cost-neutral operating plan, a plan to increase bus operations, or a plan that is associated with a priority bus network to which the rest of the service should feed. While most transit agencies use bus network redesigns to develop a system that better serves the needs of the riders within their current operating budgets, even transit agencies that had additional money to spend often develop a cost-neutral plan to encourage the dis- cussion of trade-offs. 4. Bus network redesigns should be built on agreed-upon design principles, service types, and design guidelines. â Because of the breadth of changes that will be recommended through a bus network rede- sign, transit agencies use the occasion to review and update some of their key service plan- ning guidance documents, including service design and service performance guidelines. This not only provides the planners with a structure under which to conduct the planning but also provides the transit agency with documented reasoning that can be used in discus- sions with the public and stakeholders. â Design principles to be defined early include the approach to the planning processâsuch as starting from a blank slate or looking at comprehensive modifications to an existing bus network; how much of the transit agencyâs resources should be devoted to high ridership services versus local coverage services; how much should the bus network redesign focus on direct trips (one-seat rides) at the expense of greater frequency; and what demographic and land-use characteristics should warrant fixed route service at all. â Service types that a transit agency may include in their bus network redesign include types such as high-frequency/high-priority, feeder service to high-frequency and/or fixed guide- way transit, and local coverage routes. â Finally, establishing design guidelines, such as span, frequency, and stop spacing, for dif- ferent service types provides justification for the recommendations that the transit agency can reference later in the process during public and stakeholder input phases. 5. The importance of frequent and meaningful engagement with stakeholders and the public cannot be overstated; there is no such thing as too much outreach, engagement, and communication when planning and implementing a bus network redesign. â Getting input is crucial to developing a bus network redesign plan that will work for people and will ease the education process when planning turns to implementation. However, even with significant amounts of engagement, transit agencies should still expect chal- lenges come implementation time, namely, making sure all riders are reached and that these riders understand how the changes will impact their trips. â Bus network redesigns typically structure outreach to be a key element of all phases of the process, morphing over time from general input, to feedback on possible service changes, to education about the changes. A common challenge that transit agencies contend with is making sure that the public understands early on that the plan is intended to move toward
Conclusions and Next Steps 77 implementation. Sometimes the sheer volume of changes can make people think it would never be implemented, so they may hold their comments and not provide input until late in the process. â Transit agencies use a wide variety of strategies to engage the public, from workshops, to pop-up surveys at transit centers, to social media. While most transit agencies relied largely on in-person engagement with some complementary online engagement, including crowdsourcing sites and surveys, bus network redesigns in the future may likely need to pivot to emphasize virtual engagement given the recent concerns about large gatherings. â Engaging disadvantaged and diverse populations is especially important in bus network redesigns. In cities that have multiple transit modes, bus tends to skew toward higher pro- portions of low-income and minority populations than other modes. Bus network rede- signs impact all riders and potential riders, and the input they provide can be invaluable to the plan development. 6. Transit agencies are currently in the stage of piloting and experimenting with the inte- gration of new mobility in their services; planning for new mobility has not been widely integrated into bus network redesigns. â Likely due to the relative nascence of these modes, microtransit, TNC partnerships, micro- mobility, and the development of mobility hubs are typically considered in parallel or as pilot efforts loosely associated with the bus network redesign. â While bus network redesign and new mobility integration is not common, most transit agency interviewees indicated their agencies have or are in the process of implementing a variety of new mobility options, including general-purpose on-demand transit, TNC partnerships, and coordination with local jurisdictions on micromobility for first-mile/ last-mile access to transit. A few transit agencies incorporated on-demand zones into their redesign plans, and one incorporated planning for these modes into mobility hubs for multimodal connections. â In the cases where transit agencies have implemented microtransit service, their approach to dealing with fixed routes in that area are mixed, with some replacing fixed route service with microtransit and some using it as a complementary service. â While many transit agencies are starting to offer new mobility options, they are funding them and presenting them publicly as pilot projects. Several organizations suggested that low ridership on new mobility services may be because people do not understand the ser- vice, and more important, they do not want to invest the time in understanding it if the service is likely to be removed in a few months. Appropriate marketing and discounts for rides can help counteract some of this hesitancy. 7. Equity considerations are integral to bus network redesign planning efforts. â At most transit agencies, buses carry a higher proportion of low-income, minority, and limited English proficient riders than other transit modes; therefore, changes to the bus network may have a greater impact on these populations. â Many transit agencies are incorporating additional analysis into their planning to ensure that the planning process accounts for locations of minority and low-income households; the transit agencies that conducted impact evaluations early and worked closely with these communities were better able to serve these populations and address their concerns proac- tively. This analysis goes beyond Title VI compliance, it includes looking at locations with high levels of employment in industries where low-income workers work and ensuring sufficient service to connect communities with healthcare and other social services. â While many bus network redesigns focus on improving efficiency and providing better service on high-frequency corridors, increasing walk distances to transit can have a sig- nificant impact on people with disabilities and seniors. Bus network redesigns should also consider the needs of people with disabilities and the senior population when evaluating alternatives that require longer walks to fixed route transitânot only is fixed route transit
78 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future often more appealing to this population, but it is a much less expensive trip to provide for the transit agency. â Additionally, many disabled people and seniors rely on paratransit service, and the service area is based on the fixed route network. Since the fixed route network will be changing as a result of the bus network redesign, some transit agencies that have implemented or are planning to implement bus network redesigns have grandfathered in either specific users or geographic areas to ensure continuity of paratransit service. 8. Implementation of bus network redesignsâon the operating side and with supporting capital elementsâare incredibly involved and require participation from all parts of the transit agency, local jurisdictions, and other key stakeholders. â Intense collaboration is required throughout the transit agency and with regional partners to implement the major changes planned in many bus network redesigns. â At the simplest, a bus network redesign can be implemented with limited capital invest- ments, such as new bus stop signs, new or expanded layover facilities, and additional space for transfers at existing facilities. More capital-intensive bus network redesigns require transit agencies to work with their local jurisdictions to invest in bus-priority treat- ments, new and expanded passenger stops and transfer facilities, and first-mile/last-mile improvements. â Transit agencies vary in how they deploy bus network redesigns in terms of an all-at-once change or implementing the plans over time. Deploying over time can be done for a variety of reasons, including availability of funds and/or resources, while an âovernightâ imple- mentation is logistically challenging but has the benefit of getting everything done at once. â A proper launch ensures that the changes to the system are understood by the public, which therefore ensures that they system will continue to attract and retain riders. This requires extensive public education as well as educating and empowering frontline employees as ambassadors for the changes. Future Work This effort identified several areas for additional study, including the following: â¢ Further evaluate the benefits and outcomes of bus network redesigns after sufficient time has passed to analyze the results. Following a typical service change, ridership often declines before rebounding as riders acclimate to new system changes. Ideally, the impact of the service changes on key metrics (e.g., ridership, reliability) should be evaluated at least 18 months post implementation. â One particular area of research may be to analyze the differences between linked and unlinked boardings prior to the bus network redesign and after its implementation; in particular, it is important to understand if the increases in unlinked boardings observed after some bus network redesigns are attributable to ânewâ trips being made, or are solely the result of more riders requiring a connection where none may have been necessary previously. â Evaluate the impact on riders of rapid versus phased implementation, and how long the adjustment period is for ridership trends. â¢ Evaluate the long-term impacts of bus network redesign, in terms of land-use changes, peopleâs location decisions, and changed relationships with the local municipalities (e.g., did the bus network redesign prompt cities that were previously averse to bus-priority change how bus is treated within the broader transportation system). â¢ Assess the evolution of new mobility options and other transportation system changes impact travel behavior, specifically as it relates to the use of fixed route transit. Given the rapid evolution of new mobility options as well as conflicting data on impacts, there is a need for continuous
Conclusions and Next Steps 79 study of changes in travel behavior as a result of the introduction and rising prevalence of these modes in the near term. Because the impact of new mobility on travel behavior has been shown to vary geographically across the country, gathering robust data on a variety of place types will be important. â¢ More research is needed regarding the influence of new mobility on transit networks and options for new mobility, specifically looking into the use of microtransit applications, their cost-effectiveness for transit agencies as compared with more traditional services, as well as their impact on overall fixed route ridership. As microtransit becomes more prevalent throughout the country, research should be conducted as to how much of an impact micro- transit services have on transit ridership overall, including publicly funded and non-publicly subsidized programs. â This research might also consider an examination of the labor practices and financial situ- ations (e.g., subsidization by venture capital funds) of new mobility providers in terms of their actual costs, the impact on labor, and the extent to which some new mobility provid- ers may be expecting to substitute venture capital funding subsidy with that of the public sector. â¢ Issues of equity in access to and use of new mobility modes incorporated into existing transit systems merits further evaluation. FTAâs Title VI guidance does not extend to the evaluation of these types of partnerships themselves. Although ADA requires equivalent service, that does not mean that new mobility is being planned with the needs of people with disabilities in mind. Several new mobility initiatives have explicitly sought to serve the needs of tradition- ally disadvantaged or underserved populations (including people with disabilities), but many others are being deployed based on the fit with a specific-use case (e.g., areas otherwise not suited for service by fixed route transit provide rides only to a specific group, such as senior citizens) that may or may not provide equal access to all.